Despite some slowing in the trend, employers can still expect to face the fifth straight year of double-digit increases for employee health care benefits. Towers Perrin surveyed 200 businesses with an average workforce of 7,200 to find that a 12-percent increase in costs is expected in 2004.
It's little consolation that the figure is smaller than the 16 percent that employers were hit with in 2003, says Jim Foreman, the consulting company's managing director of health and welfare.
"I cannot recall a longer sustained period of double-digit increases in the health care industry," says Foreman. "Companies are paying twice as much in health care costs today as they paid six years ago."
SOURCE: 2004 HEALTH CARE COST SURVEY, TOWERS PERRIN