Survey: Nearly Nine in 10 Workers Pay Higher Health Premiums

March 31, 2004 ( - Not surprisingly given the current health-care environment, most workers are digging deeper into their pockets these days to pay for their workplace health coverage.

The latest quarterly management survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found 86% of employees face increased health care contributions while more than seven in 10 (72%) face raised deductibles. If employers didn’t cost shift health expenses to workers, many slashed their benefit levels. Nearly 50% of executives surveyed reduced benefits over the past three years to combat rising health care costs.

Employees are also feeling the impact of the rising cost of prescription drugs – an area of health coverage that has been particularly hard by cost hikes: 87% of executives surveyed adopted one or more approaches to reduce their program’s cost. This was led by increased co-pays for brand name drugs (71%) and/or increased co-pays for generic drugs (69%). Fifteen percent of the executives surveyed reduced or eliminated coverage for lifestyle drugs.

Nearly nine in 10 of surveyed senior executives of large U.S.-based companies advocate programs to change employee health behaviors. Fifty-six percent of those surveyed have considered offering a consumer-directed health care plan. On the issue of developing new approaches to solve the health care dilemma, just shy of a unanimous vote (94%) by respondents rejected the “one pay” system overseen by the government.

The survey also found that 47% of large multinationals sponsor a retiree medical program and nearly half of those have had to cut benefits for current or future enrollees – 28% and 44%, respectively. Examined also were supplementary benefits where the employee pays the full cost, and the toll of health care costs on a company.

These findings are based on interviews with 174 CFOs and Managing Directors of U.S.-based companies. More information is at .