Many large companies seem to be winning the war against skyrocketing health insurance premiums.

Researchers at the National Business Group on Health, Washington, and Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Washington, have published figures supporting that conclusion on a survey of 585 large employers.

Researchers found that the median increase has fallen to 8% this year, from 10% in 2005.

Employers expect prices to increase another 8% in 2007, but 86% say health care benefits costs came in at or below budget in 2005, researchers say.

About 42% of large employers now say they will absorb cost increases rather than passing additional increases on to workers, but 30% say they plan to make employees more accountable for managing their own health.