Printed from

Health benefit costs concern most workers: Study

Posted On: May. 24, 2007 12:00 AM CST

A majority of U.S. workers are concerned that their employers will either cut their health care coverage or increase cost-sharing in response to the rising cost of health care services, a survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide has found.

However, most employees say they are willing to try to improve their own health status to help control future cost increases, according to the survey, "Employee Perspectives on Health Care: Voice of the Consumer."

"There's no doubt the rise in health care benefit costs is taking a toll on today's workers, both financially and in the form of increased stress," said Cathy Tripp, a senior group health care consultant at Watson Wyatt in Minneapolis, in a statement announcing the survey results.

Fortunately, "employees have been getting the message that many employers have been trying to send--that improving one's health pays dividends now and in the future," said Kathryn Yates, global director of Watson Wyatt's communications practice based in Chicago.

Among other survey findings:

  • 51% of employees are highly concerned that they won't be able to pay for health care coverage when they retire.

  • 35% are concerned that a major medical expense could ruin them financially.

  • 68% believe their deductibles and copayments will increase in the next two years.

  • 51% are concerned their employer will reduce the scope of benefits in the next two years.

  • 12% of workers have reduced contributions to their retirement savings plans because of higher health care costs, while 18% have cut back on contributions to other savings.

  • 61% of workers say they see a correlation between maintaining a healthy lifestyle and controlling health care cost increase.

  • 31% of employees are in the process of making lifestyle changes to improve their current health status, while 27% are considering making a change.
The survey was conducted in January 2007. Participants included 2,099 randomly selected full-time U.S. employees of large, nongovernmental companies who receive health care coverage through their employers.

For more information about the survey, visit Copies of the complete survey are available for download at $49 apiece.