The cost of multi-employer health plans in the United States has increased consistently over the past decade, rising at an average of 4.8 per cent per year, according to a new study.

The study, published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and Horizon Actuarial Services, also found the median cost of benefits per participant was $10,017 in 2014 compared to $6,517 in 2005.

“The ten years represented in this report encapsulates major changes to the health-care industry as a whole, many of which directly impact multi-employer health plans,” said Stephanie Patrick, consulting actuary at Horizon Actuarial, in a news release.

Read: 51% of executives predict benefits plans to be more generous by 2037

She noted legal changes in the U.S., market changes and the influx of high-cost products in health care have all contributed to the increase in costs. “Plan trustees have been required to focus on balancing cost management with protecting participants,” said Patrick. “Despite these challenges, multi-employer health plans have succeeded in improving their funding levels in recent years.”

According to the study, multi-employer health plans, on average, have generally outpaced their expenses by increasing employer and employee contributions. Employers contributions have increased at an average of 4.9 per cent annually, while employee contributions have increased at an average of five per cent annually.

From 2005-14, the median employer contribution to health plans was $9,843 per member, while the median for each employee was $448 per year.

Read: Benefits costs to trend even higher in 2017

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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