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Study: More Workers Pay for Healthcare

January 12, 2006|From Bloomberg News

A shrinking number of U.S. employees work at companies offering to pay their entire monthly bill for healthcare coverage, with the largest drop occurring in big companies, according to a government report released Wednesday.

About 28% of employees worked at businesses that offered fully paid health plans in 2003, compared with 35% in 1998, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Md.

The findings suggested that more companies were trying to control rising healthcare costs with employee contributions, said Steven B. Cohen, director of the agency's Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends.

About 14% of employees had access to paid-for family health plans in 2003, compared with about 18% in 1998, the study said.

Large companies, those with 50 or more workers, accounted for most of the decrease in fully paid health plans, the study said. The share of employees whose companies offered to pay the full premium fell to 22% from 28% during the study period, while at smaller businesses, the rate fell to 53% from 56%.

Employers' healthcare costs rose an average 9.9% last year, and workers' contributions have almost doubled since 2002, according to research by Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm.

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