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U.S. Employers See Lowest Rise In Healthcare Costs In 15 Years

A new Mercer study finds U.S. employers' healthcare costs rose 4.1% this year -- the lowest increase in employer healthcare costs in 15 long, long years. Since 1997, to be exact. I'll raise a dose of Nyquil and sneeze to that!

Employers' healthcare costs are falling so dramatically all of the sudden because they're busy prepping their workplaces for the Affordable Care Act. Yes, U.S. employers are making more of an effort to hold down healthcare costs now that the ACA looks like it's here to stay like a nagging winter cold.

Specifically, employers are moving toward wellness plans, high-deductible plans, and consumer-directed health plans to expand healthcare coverage as required under the ACA. Here's the kicker, though: The cost of providing employees a consumer-directed health plan, Mercer says, is 20% cheaper than getting coverage through a preferred provider. As The Hill reports:

"Moving even a small number of employees out of a more expensive plan into a CDHP can result in significant savings for an employer," the report stated. "Many employers sees these plans as central to their response to healthcare reform provisions that will raise enrollment."

Sharon Cunninghis, a senior partner at Mercer, added in the report, "If we're not already at the tipping point for CDHPs — and we may well be — at this rate of growth it's coming soon."

You can get a lot more information about Mercer's report here.

In other health-related news, Canada is ramping up a four-year study to see how the workplace causes cancer.

Meanwhile, you can win a desk caddy with Kleenex hand sanitizers, anti-viral facial tissue and Scott sanitizing wipes if you're one of the first 250 people to watch Kimberly-Clark's new Eugene "Call me Hi Gene" Hammer video series. Hey, it's something to do while you enroll in a consumer-directed health plan, isn't it?

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