NU Online News Service, March 17, 2005, 3:56 p.m. EST

Some large employers may be starting to hold their own in the battle against skyrocketing health insurance premiums.[@@]

Researchers at the National Business Group on Health, Washington, and Watson Wyatt & Company Holdings, Washington, have published figures supporting that conclusion on a survey of 555 large employers. Each of the participating employers has at least 1,000 workers.

Researchers found that the median increase has fallen to 10% this year, from 12% in 2004, and that the quarter of employers with the best performance held cost increases to 5%.

The survey also found that 8% of large employers already offer health savings accounts and that another 18% plan to add HSA programs in 2006.

About 75% of participating executives agree that HSAs get employees involved in managing their health, but 49% say they still aren’t sure whether HSAs will lower health care costs.