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Employers Shift Rising Health Care Costs to Workers: No Long-term Solution in Sight

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Publication Date: May 2004

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Lydia E. Regopoulos; Sally Trude

Series: Issue Brief No. 83

Topic: Health (Health care financing)

Type: Brief


Despite concerns that an economic downturn would prompt employers to rein in rapidly rising health insurance premiums by radically reducing benefits, few have made dramatic benefit changes, according to findings from the Center for Studying Health System Change's (HSC) 2002-03 site visits to 12 nationally representative communities. Key employer changes focused on increasing patient cost sharing and revising family coverage policies. Few employers adopted innovative health benefit strategies or major design changes. Given employers' lack of confidence in alternative strategies and their unwillingness to restrict workers' choice of providers, employers will likely continue incremental cost-sharing increases in the face of ongoing premium increases.