Companies Face Uncertain Health Costs as Employees Defer Treatments

People are deferring many routine medical treatments during the coronavirus pandemic, creating unexpected savings for some employers, while making it harder for companies to forecast health-benefit costs in the year ahead.

As U.S. companies prepare to open their enrollment periods for health-care plans, many are uncertain about how much medical care their employees will consume in the year ahead. Health benefits typically account for a large portion of a company’s personnel costs.

Health-benefits costs for global companies that are insured—meaning they purchase a policy to cover their employees’ health-care claims—are expected to rise by 8.1% in the 2021 calendar year over this year, as people rebook medical appointments they postponed, according to a report published earlier this week by advisory firm Willis

Towers Watson.

By comparison, health-care costs are expected to rise 5.9% this year from a year earlier, the report said. The projections are based on responses from

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