Survey: Large Firms Plan To Retain Health Care Benefits
Most large companies plan to continue to offer health benefits to employees but seek to reduce costs through programs to improve employee health, according to a survey released on Thursday by human resources consultant Hewitt Associates, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.
The survey included responses from human resources and other executives at 448 companies with an average of 18,758 employees.
It found that, although some companies continue to reduce health benefits and increase copayments, none plan to drop benefits for workers over the next three to five years. In addition, the survey found that 63% of companies plan to take aggressive, multi-year steps to improve employee health through educational and disease management programs.
Almost 70% of the companies plan to offer tools, such as health risk questionnaires and nurse hot lines, to help employees manage their health, the survey found. According to the survey, some large employers might "drop health care benefits, but, based on our respondents, we do not think this will be widespread unless there are fundamental changes in the current health care environment."
However, the survey included responses from few company finance executives, a group more likely to consider proposals to drop health benefits for employees that human resources executives, Hewitt said.
James Winkler, practice leader of the health management consulting practice at Hewitt, said, "I've been in a dozen client meetings where the employer has said, 'I'd gladly be the second (to drop health care), but I'm not going to be the first'" (Simon, AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/19).