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Employer-Sponsored Health Plan Costs Could Increase By 6.7%

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Employer-Sponsored Health Plan Costs

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Health care benefit costs for U.S. employers may rise an average of6.7% to $8,500 per employee in 2008, a slight increase over 2007's 6.1% increase, according to a nationwide survey of 1,557 employers conducted by Mercer Health & Benefits, the Hartford Courantreports. The survey results offer a "preliminary peek into howemployers and their employees will fare next year," according to the Courant. Mercer will release full results from a survey of about 3,000 employers later this year.

Thepreliminary survey found that 36% of employers want to raise thepercentage of premiums employees pay, while 29% expect to increasedeductibles, copayments or the maximum out-of-pocket payments allowedfor employees. Some companies plan to take both approaches (Levick, Hartford Courant,9/6). Without cutting expenses and shifting costs to workers, employerswould see an average health benefit cost increase of 9%, according tothe survey (Bloomberg/Asbury Park Press, 9/6).

"Employerthinking on what constitutes a 'fair share' for employees hasdefinitely changed over the past few years," Blaine Bos, a seniorMercer consultant in Minneapolis, said. He added, "But in many cases,we're seeing employers providing more choice rather than just shiftingcost, so that employees have the opportunity to save money by selectinglower levels of coverage" (Hartford Courant, 9/6).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.