8% Jump Expected for Employer Health Care Costs
Employer health care costs last year increased by 8%, and companies expect the same rate of growth this year and in 2008, according to a survey released on Wednesday by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, the AP/Detroit News reports. The survey, which Watson conducted with the National Business Group on Health, included responses from 573 employers with at least 1,000 employees.
According to the survey, more employers said they have begun to offer programs to help employees maintain healthy lifestyles in an effort to reduce health care costs. The survey found that 72% of respondents said they offer employees health risk evaluations, compared with 66% last year.
In addition, the survey found that 23% of respondents said they offer onsite health clinics and that 14% of respondents said they offer onsite pharmacies.
Based on an initial analysis of the survey results, employers that offer programs to help employees maintain healthy lifestyles have a lower rate of growth in health care costs than employers that shift more of the costs to workers, Ted Nussbaum, director of group and health care consulting at Watson, said.
Watson will release a complete analysis of the survey results next month (Agovino, AP/Detroit News, 2/22).