The current economic downturn has consumers and businesses alike trying to cut costs.  One of the ways businesses are cutting expenses is employee healthcare.  They are looking for cheaper group plans or they’re forcing employees to shoulder more of the cost.  And then there’s the federal healthcare overhaul bill.

All of these factors have conspired to change the way businesses and consumers shop for healthcare.  These changes have also impacted the plans themselves.  With health insurance such a hot button issue, We thought it a good time to gather some recent news on the topic and share it with you here.

A clear example of plan change is evidenced by the growth of health care savings accounts.  According to the organization “America’s Health Insurance Plans” the number of people enrolled in health savings accounts has jumped 18% to 13.5 million people as of Jan. 1, 2012.  Employer sponsored health care savings plans has also jumped 25% in the last year.

New figures released by PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Health Research Institute, expects group health care premiums to rise an average of 5.5% in 2012 and 2013.  By way of comparison, plans increased an average of 6% in 2010 and 2011.

In a bit of good news, the IRS eliminated a potential compliance nightmare for employers as a result of the health care reform law.  They ruled that the annual cap of $2,500 for contributions will not apply to plans created before January 1, 2013.  Just like that a hovering problem for employers is gone.

Now, if only the IRS would do that a little more often to the benefit of all.