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Most Companies Oppose Single-Payer Health Care System, State Coverage Mandates
Date:4/23/2008

Reform Proposals Have Little Impact on Employer Health Care Offerings Thus

Far

WASHINGTON, April 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Most U.S. companies do not support a single-payer health care system or state legislation mandating coverage. Instead, they prefer relying on private-sector solutions, according to research by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm, and the National Business Group on Health.

More than three-quarters (84 percent) of employers do not support a single-payer system such as universal health care coverage. Instead, 78 percent favor private-sector solutions, according to the 13th annual Watson Wyatt/National Business Group on Health report. The organizations surveyed 453 large U.S. employers between November 2007 and January 2008.

"With the election approaching, health care issues are again in the spotlight," said Ted Nussbaum, director of group and health care consulting in North America for Watson Wyatt. "The link between health and productivity is a vital part of a company's success. Most employers are not willing to cede influence over programs that affect their workers' health."

Companies Strongly Favor Private Sector Health Care Solutions

Very Somewhat Not very Not at all

Proposal supportive supportive supportive supportive

Universal system

such as single-payer 3% 13% 34% 50%

Public-private

combination solution 10% 53% 23% 15%

Federal legislation

supporting private

sector solution 26% 52% 14% 8%

State legislation

mandating coverage 4% 26% 33% 36%

More than two-thirds of employers (69 percent) do not support state legislation such as the law enacted in Massachusetts that mandates coverage for state residents. Nearly the same percentage (63 percent) support a joint effort between the public and private sectors that combines government programs, employer coverage and individual requirements.

"Despite their frustration with rising costs, employers believe they can do a better job managing costs and meeting the needs of their workers than the government can," said Nussbaum. "In the last few years, companies have made considerable progress in increasing employee engagement in health care, through private-sector initiatives such as consumer-directed health plans and health savings accounts. Many feel they will be able to make even more headway in the future."

While companies continue to monitor legislative activity, more than a third (35 percent) say reform proposals are having no influence on their decisions to make plan changes, and 62 percent are still making plan changes as they monitor reform proposals.

An overview of the 2008 presidential candidates' health care reform proposals is available in the latest issue of the Watson Wyatt Insider at http://www.watsonwyatt.com/healthreform.

About Watson Wyatt Worldwide

Watson Wyatt (NYSE, Nasdaq: WW) is the trusted business partner to the world's leading organizations on people and financial issues. The firm's global services include: managing the cost and effectiveness of employee benefit programs; developing attraction, retention and reward strategies; advising pension plan sponsors and other institutions on optimal investment strategies; providing strategic and financial advice to insurance and financial services companies; and delivering related technology, outsourcing and data services. Watson Wyatt has 7,000 associates in 32 countries and is located on the Web at http://www.watsonwyatt.com.


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SOURCE Watson Wyatt Worldwide
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