NU Online News Service, June 14, 2004, 4:29 p.m. EDT – Workers are skeptical about employer efforts to promote health care consumerism.[@@]

When researchers hired by Towers Perrin L.P., New York, surveyed benefits executives at 120 large U.S. companies, they found that 92% described health care costs as a serious business issue and that 27% said their companies already had adopted consumer-driven health plan programs.

But when the researchers conducted a parallel survey of 1,000 employees of large and midsize U.S. companies, only 15% agreed that health benefit reductions would be appropriate and only 28% agreed that employees should absorb more health benefits cost increases.

A year ago, 46% of employees surveyed said they felt it was appropriate for their employers to ask them to absorb more health benefits cost increases, Towers Perrin says in a discussion of the survey results.

Only 34% of the employees agreed that rising health care costs have implications for the success of their employers, and 43% disagreed.

This year, employees do seem to be open to efforts to promote healthy lifestyles: 79% said employers should encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyles, and 76% said they would join a health plan that offered financial incentives for healthy behavior.

Employees said they like health plans that supply health-related Web sites, information booklets and brochures, and toll-free nurse information lines.