While U.S. employers look to keep their workers safe and healthy, they could see their health care benefit costs jump as a result of both the spreading coronavirus and recent legislation requiring health plans to cover testing and related costs for COVID-19, the respiratory disease the virus causes.
"Many employers, particularly those who are self-funded, are concerned about the potential cost of treating the coronavirus for a significant portion of their employees," said Ed Fensholt, director of compliance services at benefits advisory firm Lockton Companies in Kansas City, Mo.
Scott Behrens, director of government relations at Lockton, noted that "for fully insured plans, rates are locked in for the current year," so coronavirus-related health care cost issues "aren't going to be felt for insured plans until renewal" for the 2021 plan year.
Self-funded employers are "trying to figure out what their risk of increased claims might be," Behrens said. "Employers need to be aware of that risk."