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May 26, 2006
Employers Use Internet Tools in Quest to Control Health Costs

Employers that are best at controlling healthcare costs are more likely to offer Internet tools that help employees make provider-quality comparisons and provider-pricing comparisons, according to a study by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health.

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The survey included 585 companies, 58 percent of which said they provide Internet resources that allow employees to compare healthcare insurance options side by side. However, the best-performing companies in controlling costs are 38 percent more likely to provide quality comparison tools and 36 percent more likely to provide tools to model the tax impact of health care decisions, such as signing up for a flexible spending account.

In addition, while only a small number of companies offer Internet resources for provider pricing, those best at controlling costs are 108 percent more likely to do so, according to Watson Wyatt.

"Providing information on the cost-effectiveness of providers is key to directing employees to lower-cost, higher-quality health care," says Jeri Stepman, Watson Wyatt's national leader for health and welfare administration. "Employers can harness the Internet to help provide this data and encourage employees to use health care providers with the best treatment outcomes."

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