Employees Willing to Pay for Predictable Health Care Costs

November 9, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - As health care costs continue to significantly outpace the rate of inflation and increases in compensation, an affordability gap is placing increasing pressure on employees and eroding satisfaction with their health plans, according to Towers Watson.

A Towers Watson survey found the number of employees who would pay more for predictable health care costs has doubled over the past year, to 42%. Nearly one-third of employees (30%) are even willing to get smaller compensation increases today if they could ensure lower, more predictable health care cost increases tomorrow.  

According to a press release, nearly three in four (72%) employees report that their employer has asked them to pay more for their health care benefits this year as employer health care costs for active employees are projected to rise 8.2% (after plan changes), to an average annual cost of $10,730 in 2011.   

Employee satisfaction and comfort with health care benefit plans is declining: 

  • 64% are now satisfied with their health care plans, down from 69% in 2007; 
  • Only 45% are satisfied with the cost of their health care plan today, down from 53% in 2007; and 
  • 26% believe health care spending has increased their stress levels.  


The percentage of employees who have not taken any action to reduce their health care costs has increased from 14% in 2007 and 2008 to 21% this year. Although close to three in five (57%) employees are taking better care of themselves, this number has dropped by 14% compared to last year. In addition, only 11% talk to doctors about more affordable treatment options, and 7% look for less expensive health care providers.  

“The growing health care affordability gap is a very real problem that employers must consider as they rethink their total rewards program and approach to health care subsidies,” said Ron Fontanetta, a senior health care consultant with Towers Watson, in the press release. “The key to future success is a well-designed plan with creative and meaningful consumer and wellness incentives to slow cost inflation and improve employee health and productivity.” 

The full survey report is at http://www.towerswatson.com/employeeperspectives.