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May 04, 2004
Employers Don't Like Cost Shifting


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The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation supporting independent research on health and social issues, recently issued the results of a survey of employers about their healthcare costs. The report, Job-Based Health Insurance in the Balance: Employer Views of Coverage in the Workplace, revealed that employers dislike shifting healthcare costs to employees, but often feel that they have no choice.

Of the 453 companies participating in the survey, 59 percent said it is "very important" to provide healthcare coverage to their employees. Employers report using a variety of strategies to cope with rising healthcare costs, most of them having the effect of increasing cost burdens on employees and cutting back on benefits. Thirty-three percent of the respondents who offer health insurance said that they increased employee copayments or coninsurance, and 31 percent increased the employee share of premiums in 2002. Twenty-five percent raised deductibles, and 18 percent eliminated or reduced benefits.

Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis says that employers feel forced to make such changes. "The message from employers is that they want to do the right thing for their employees," she says, "but are struggling to manage the rising costs of providing health coverage. Employers show support for a range of policy solutions, including buying into federal or state employee benefit programs, COBRA subsidies, and helping eligible employees enroll in public programs."

You can get more information from the foundation's website at http://www.cmwf.org.

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