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Employers plan to continue health care coverage, but worry about future costs

A new study from Oliver Wyman shows companies considering alternative health care options

Employers want to provide health care benefits for their employees, but are concerned about their long-term ability to do so, according to a recently released survey from management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Out of more than 1,300 employers surveyed, only 8 percent said they planned to end health care coverage for employees. Forty-two percent intend to maintain the status quo and 50 percent will continue to offer insurance, but anticipate major changes.

"The most critical points are that [employers] by and large have a very strong desire to take care of their employees," Oliver Wyman Partner Mindy S. Kairey told National Public Radio.

Despite their best intentions, however, many companies worry that they will eventually have to cut benefits, with almost two-thirds of respondents saying that health care costs are unsustainable in the long term.

The likelihood that a company will drop benefits depends on its size, average employee income and employer attitudes. Larger companies are less likely to cut coverage, as are those whose employees make more than $44,000 a year. The most important factor, though, is a company’s attitude toward health care—among employers who provide insurance because they believe it is “the right thing to do,” only 2 percent would consider stopping coverage.

To solve the problem of increasing health care costs, more than half of employers are willing to consider alternative coverage options such as private exchanges or value-based networks. And employees are equally open to change, with 90 percent saying they would accept significant benefits changes in return for increased savings.

Read more analysis of the survey at NPR.

Alanna Byrne

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