Most large U.S. employers are still making large long-term investments in programs to improve the health and productivity of their workforce, a new survey by benefits consultant Hewitt Associates Inc. finds.
Cost pressures, however, along with political changes in Washington, could prompt some employers to reconsider their future role as a health care benefits provider, says Hewitt, Lincolnshire, Ill. Its recent annual survey covered more than 340 employers representing over 5 million employees.
The number of companies focused solely on cutting annual health care costs increased from 15% in 2008 to 31% in 2009. Hewitt also found 65% are continuing to make major investments in improving the health and productivity of their workforce despite the distressed economy. Nevertheless, 4% said they are taking steps that would allow them to stop providing health care benefits altogether.
While 75% of companies plan to focus on improving employee health and productivity in the next 3 to 5 years, 19% said their strategy is to move away from providing health care benefits directly, up from 4% in 2008.