NU Online News Service, March 6, 2003, 1:24 p.m. EST – Eighteen percent of large U.S. employers express strong confidence about their ability to control major medical costs, according to results of a survey by Watson Wyatt & Company, Washington, and the Washington Business Group on Health, Washington.

Although most of the 434 employers participating in the survey complained about problems with health benefits budgeting, 21% said they either met their health care budget goals in 2002 or ended up with costs below expectations.

The employers getting the worst results focused on increasing workers’ share of the overall premium costs.

The employers getting the best results used discounts and penalties that affected workers while workers were actually getting and paying for care, according to the survey report.

The more successful employers also planned further ahead, emphasized employee self-service, and used carve-out companies to manage care for specific diseases, researchers say.