LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. — Salaried employees of large U.S. companies are paying a bigger share of their medical expenses than they did five years ago, according to a soon-to-be-released study of employee benefits.
Hewitt Associates, a suburban Chicago consulting firm, conducted the survey of 227 major employers.
Medical plans are paying more catastrophic-illness costs but employees are paying a larger share of other medical expenses, researchers discovered.
Hewitt found that just 29% of the survey respondents' medical plans covered 100% of hospital room and board charges, compared with 53% in 1984.
The more typical practice is for the plan to cover 80% of hospital charges and require employees to pay 20% up to a specified maximum, usually $2,000 or less. The plan then kicks in and pays 100%.
Employers also are trying to better manage medical costs by encouraging employees to seek second surgical opinions and have medical tests done on an outpatient basis.