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Health insurance costs rise in Milwaukee area

Health care graphic copyright Midwest Communications, Inc.
Health care graphic copyright Midwest Communications, Inc.

UNDATED (WSAU)   Employers in southeast Wisconsin are paying 12-percent more the national average for health insurance. That’s one of the findings in a survey of Milwaukee area companies by the benefit consulting firm of Mercer. It found that employers’ total health costs rose by 4.5-percent this year. That’s the lowest increase in 15 years, but it’s still higher than the national jump of 4.1-percent.

The survey found that employers will spend $11,867 per employee on health care in 2012 – about $1,300 more than the national average.

Rob Grant of Mercer said the smaller increase in health costs is still more than twice the rate of inflation – so there’s not a lot to celebrate. He said many employers reduced their costs by offering higher-deductible health plans that give workers a larger share of the bill. Mercer found that 22-percent of Milwaukee area firms offer high-deductible plans – and the same is true for 36-percent of large firms with over 500 workers. Grant said many firms have also used wellness programs to lower their costs.

Milwaukee’s Robert W. Baird investment firm said a number of wellness efforts have paid off – including programs to quit smoking, and control high blood pressure.