Public employers nationwide are asking their employees to pay a higher share of their health care benefit costs, a recent survey finds.

The economic crisis and growing health care costs are moving state and local governments to change the way that their health care plans are designed and funded, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, Brookfield, Wisc., which conducted the survey.

Of public employers surveyed, 72% have increased or are considering an increase in their employees’ deductibles, coinsurance or copays. In addition, 74% increased or are considering an increase in employee premiums.

IFEBP also found 72% are placing more emphasis on controlling prescription drug costs. Of these public employers, 74% expanded employee education about drug options and costs, 61% increased copayments or coinsurance for drugs and 54% mandated the use of generic drugs.

Other cost-saving programs public employers have inaugurated recently include adding a consumer-driven health plan (31%), shifting to a self-funded plan (26%) and introducing spousal surcharges (20%).