Employers’ health care costs for 2012 are on pace to show the smallest annual increase in fifteen years, according to a survey by healthcare consultant Mercer.
Based on early responses from employers, Mercer predicted that the the average cost of employee health care would rise 5.2% next year, making it the smallest hike since 1997.
Much of the cost cutting comes from employers increasing deductibles and shifting employees onto lower-cost health plans. However, the survey also found that even without those cash saving measures, health care costs would still be on pace to grow at a slower rate than in previous years.
Also adding to the lower rate of increase is the fact that employees are utilising health care services less often. According to Mercer, it’s unclear as of now if that is the result of cash-strapped employees impacted by the recession opting to seek out care as regularly, or possibly the result of improved preventative measures that have preempted later, more costly medical care.
The survey is only about halfway completed, and Mercer plans to release more complete findings by the end of the year.
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