NU Online News Service, May 15, 3:25 p.m. – Many large employers are preparing to revamp their approach to major medical coverage, according to results of a new survey from Watson Wyatt & Company Holdings Inc., Washington, and the Washington Business Group on Health, Washington.

Researchers found when they surveyed 292 large employers that only 34% believe they will be willing and able to absorb the coverage cost increases expected in 2003.

A year ago, 50% of large employers said they would be willing and able to absorb the increases expected for 2002.

Nineteen percent of the large employers have already tried to control costs by giving employees more information and more responsibility, and 43% predict they will increase the level of “consumerism” in the next year.

Thirty-three percent of the employers have tried to put employees in a better bargaining position by giving them detailed information about the cost of health care services. Another 32% say they plan to add cost information.

But researchers found that employers do worry about the health of their employees as well as the cost of coverage.

Although 76% say consumerism could help by increasing employees’ sensitivity to prices, 77% fear employees might go without necessary care to save money.