U.S. employers expect healthcare cost increases to remain at 6 percent next year, according to a survey of 489 large employers. The survey also found that more employers are planning to adopt consumer-directed health plans in an effort to control expenses. The research was conducted by the global consulting firm Watson Wyatt and the Business Group on Health.
“Cost increases have stabilized, but the financial crisis is causing many companies to reevaluate their health plan strategies,” said Watson Wyatt’s Ted Nussbaum. “While large-scale changes appear unlikely, economic realities are leading companies to adopt strategies that emphasize greater personal health accountability to their workers,” he added.
Two-thirds of those questioned cite the poor health habits of employees as a considerable challenge to lowering health-related costs.
Other obstacles include under-use of preventive-care services, the high cost of catastrophic and end-of-life care, and poor employee understanding of how to use their health plans.
The average healthcare expenditure per employee among those surveyed was $7,173, and is expected to increase to $7,400 in 2009.