Survey: Health Costs Top Employee Worry List

November 3, 2004 ( - Employers in a poll of Northeast companies overwhelmingly listed the rising cost of providing employee health-care coverage as the most pressing benefits issue they faced.

A 2004 poll of 308 companies primarily based in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut by C&B Consulting Group, a New York City benefits advisor, found 67% of respondents pointed to health costs as being at the top of their issues list. The remaining three matters in the top four most important issues included medical services quality (12.4%), prescription drug utilization (6%) and provider networks (3.7%), according to the study.

Employers were also asked to pinpoint their benefits program’s strategic goals. Nearly a third (27.8%) listed providing competitive but not excessive benefits as topping their list, while 15.9% said keeping their existing workforce headed their benefits objectives. Some 9.3% wanted to promote employee health and well being, while 7.4% wanted to use benefits to attract new workers.

In terms of rising costs, the poll found that respondents with HMO policies had gotten hit with a 12.2% price increase on their last renewal, while PPO policies went up 10.7%, POS policies were up !0.4% and Indemnity plans increased by just over 10%. Average annual total health-care premium per employee was $6,887.

Employers also listed a variety of strategies to decrease their health costs. Some 54.7% said they negotiated with their health carrier while 45.3% increased their contribution and 31.2% said they changed carriers altogether. Some 26.9% said they consulted with a benefits advisor.

Other survey data included:

  • employees contributed 17.2% of medical plan costs for single PPO plan coverage, 19.2% for single POS coverage and 16.7% for single HMO plan coverage
  • one in five companies have implemented wellness programs while another 30% are planning to do so soon
  • 23% of respondents have put a prescription deductible into place
  • employee benefit costs were 21.3% of payroll.

Some 45.6% of respondents reported that they covered 100 to 499 employees on their medical plan, while 22.9% covered 50 to 99 workers and 13.5% provided coverage for up to 49 workers. Just under 60% covered employee dependents. Meanwhile, 35% provided coverage to part timers, 27.4% covered domestic partners and just under a quarter (24.5%) covered retirees on their corporate policies.

For a copy of the survey, contact William Jones at or call 516-247-1961. More information on the company is at .