More Employers Say Retirees Should have Greater Responsibility for Health Care

May 1, 2007 ( - Nearly three quarters of employers say they should provide access to affordable health care to their retirees, but not necessarily fund it, with eight out of 10 suggesting tax breaks for those setting aside money for retirement health benefits, a recent survey suggests.

Nearly two-thirds of employers in a survey published by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute say that workers who lead unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, a poor diet and inadequate exercise, should be required to pay more for their health care, up from 48% who felt that way in 2005.

Eight in ten employers said they believe that providing financial incentives for employees participating in healthy lifestyle programs could reduce their company’s health care costs, down slightly from the 84% reported in 2005. Such incentive programs range from cash rewards for completing health risk appraisals to rewards for accomplishing agreed-upon goals such as a specified amount of weight loss or smoking cessation.

Other survey results include:

  • 87% of survey respondents said they didn’t think employers should move away from providing health care coverage for current employees,
  • 94% of employers say they can do a better job than they are doing now to support their employees in managing their health to help reduce costs and improve business performance.
  • 62% said that providing information on quality of care would reduce their company’s health care costs, down from 77% who said so in 2007.

“We are seeing a constant movement of employers getting out of the retiree medical space,” said Barry Barnett, Principal
in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Global Human Resource Solutions Group, in a news release. “Yet they feel an obligation to their employees even in retirement and are seeking ways to provide them with access to affordable coverage. In addition, they are encouraging current employees to invest now in the future in two ways: By making health lifestyle changes and by making sound financial decisions to prepare for their health coverage in retirement.”