The U.S. employer sponsored health system is experiencing some bipolar behavior: there is a cadre of large employers who want to continue sponsoring health benefits as part of overall compensation. But, for at least one in 3 employers, most would not be willing to pay $50 per member per month to cover health for an employee.


According to Mercer‘s survey of employers released October 21st, 2008, What Price Universal Health Coverage?, the rejoinder is: any price is too high.

4 in 10 employers say the main reason they do not offer health coverage is simply that they cannot afford to do so under current cost structures for health insurance.
When asked what they would be willing to pay for to sponsor health plans for employees, 59% said the range would be $0 up to $50 per member per month. Just 10% said they would be $200 or more per member per month.
Mercer points out that in the Massachusetts plan that compels employers to “play or pay” in health sponsorship, the state mandates $295 per employee annually to the state. This cost is expected to increase in the near term
1 in 2 employees in the Mercer survey said it’s unlikely they’ll offer health coverage in the next 3 years.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: The conundrum in the employer community is that employers would like ot see everyone covered, but don’t believe in universal coverage through “government-run” health care, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s working principles for health reform.
But as we see from the Mercer data, small employers cannot and/or will not bear the costs of health insurance because it’s too high.
For a growing number of large employers, such as automakers, continuing to provide health insurance is cutting into the very viability of the business. McKinsey modelled this phenomenon in September 2004 (shown at left) in a piece called, Will health benefit costs eclipse profits? Four years since asking the question, the Mercer data asserts, “Yes!”