The United States is not the only country in which employers expect to spend significantly more money on health care over the next 5 years.

Health coverage costs are rising rapidly in many countries, including those that offer national health plans or other government-run health plans, according to researchers at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Washington.

“Health care is fast becoming the most desired employee benefit worldwide, even in countries that support state-sponsored programs,” says Ted Nussbaum, a Watson Wyatt health care consultant.

The health insurance company executives surveyed included executives based in Asia, Africa and Europe as well as in the Americas.

About 81% of the participants predicted medical costs will increase faster than the general rate of inflation in their countries this year, researchers report.

Factors leading to the increases include increased utilization of health care, rising medical technology expenses and aging populations, the researchers write.

Employer medical costs have increased more than 10% in most of Asia and Africa and in many parts of Latin America this year, the researchers report.

Costs have risen about 7% in Brazil and Chile and are also down in the single digits in most of Europe.

Costs are up about 25% in Venezuela.