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Health Care Benefit Cost Increases to Remain at 6 Percent in 2009
Date:2/19/2009

nclude underuse of preventive care services (42 percent), the high cost of catastrophic and end-of-life care (36 percent), and poor employee understanding of how to use the plan (30 percent).

While companies will be taking a close look at benefit offerings because of the recession, most do not plan major changes. A large majority of employers do not plan to delay or cancel their planned program offerings (86 percent) or changes to plan design (87 percent).

"Given the current economic climate, high costs are clearly top of mind for workers and their employers," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. "By promoting healthy habits for workers, companies can mitigate cost pressures and build a healthier, more productive workforce. Strong support from senior management and effective communication around these initiatives will help employees grow more comfortable taking greater responsibility for their health."

Other preliminary findings from the report include:

  • Nearly one-third of employers (30 percent) have revamped their health care strategy, with another 30 percent planning to do so in 2009. A smaller number of companies are working on contingency plans for midyear changes to benefit offerings (13 percent).
  • Employers' confidence in the health benefit system remains high, though market conditions have caused this sentiment to dip. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of employers are very confident in their ability to provide health benefits 10 years from now, down from 73 percent a year ago.
  • For employers, the average health care expenditure per employee in 2008 was $7,173 and is expected to increase to nearly $7,400 in 2009. Employees paid an average of 20 percent of their total medical premium costs in 2008, a number that will likely stay the same in 2009.

The 14th Annual Nationa
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SOURCE Watson Wyatt
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