Group: Rise in Employee Health Consumerism Important Cost Increase Defense

May 19, 2005 ( - A new survey by an employers' group found that managers believe it is just as important to make workers prudent health care consumers as it is to shift more health costs onto the employees.

The survey by the San Francisco-based Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) found that 29% believe more employee health care responsibility is the best way to deal with rising workplace health bills, while just over a quarter (26%) believe cost-shifting is the primary way to go. About a fifth of the companies polled said the best tool to deal with health costs was to promote the overall health of their employees, the group said in a news release.

The principal findings show employers want a long-term strategy focused on health and productivity:

  • more than six in 10 favor managing health along with employee absence, disability and productivity over the long term
  • more than 85% of employers want to link health and group medical data to employee absence, disability, lost productivity and company financial performance over the next five years

“The results show that employers understand that short-term cost fixes are not the answer over the long term,” said IBI President Thomas Parry. “The majority of employers understand they must manage health issues among their employees and want to promote more worker responsibility in making health care decisions. For them, cost shifting is simply a band-aid until better ways of assuring a healthy, productive workforce can be implemented,” Parry said.

IBI’s report, “Beyond Cost Containment to Health & Productivity: A Shift in Employers’ Healthcare Focus,” includes responses from 620 employers surveyed during the summer of 2004.

IBI is a national, nonprofit organization supported by employers, consultants, insurers, health care providers, disease management firms, third-party administrators, pharmaceutical companies and behavioral health providers

More information can be found here .