News Briefs: Employers Take the Hit on Costs

EMPLOYERS TAKE A HIT
The trend of rising health costs continued in 2011, with employers shouldering the bulk of the increases, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The annual cost for family health insurance coverage jumped 9 percent to $15,073 this year, a sharp increase from $13,770 in 2010. Workers’ share of the total cost rose slightly more than 3 percent, while their employers’ share increased 12 percent to $10,944 per family.

STILL SMOKING
Nearly one in five Americans are smokers, with the highest rates found among the least educated, poorest, youngest and uninsured, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of employees without a high school education, more than 28 percent smoke, similar to the rate of workers with no health insurance.

NOT THEIR SPECIALTY
Most employers have a poor understanding of how specialty pharmacy benefits work, according to a new survey by the Midwest Business Group on Health. The study found that 25 percent of employers said they have little or no understanding of specialty pharmacy benefits and 53 percent have only a “moderate” understanding of the benefits. Seventy percent of the 120 employers who said their specialty pharmacy benefit was managed by an outside administrator did not know how much they were spending on the drugs, the survey said.

WORKING AT HOME
Thirty-five percent of workers who telecommute do so full time, putting in at least eight hours per day, according to a new CareerBuilder study. Employees who telecommute between four and seven hours per day made up 40 percent of the respondents, while 17 percent of telecommuters said they spend one hour or less on work per day. Also, 37 percent of workers who telecommute said they are more productive when they come into the office, while 29 percent said they were more efficient at home.

NAP TIME?
A new study by several universities concluded that insomnia costs U.S. companies $63 billion in lost productivity annually. That means an individual worker with insomnia costs the employer between $2,280 and $3,274 per year, the research said.

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