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Employer Health Insurance Costs Ratcheting Up Globally

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 20, 2011

"The growing demand for private healthcare, particularly in developing nations, has placed enormous upward pressure on the cost of providing this valuable employee benefit," said Francis Coleman, a Towers Watson senior international consultant.

"With double-digit medical cost increases now the norm, there appears to be a shift among employers and insurers toward a more holistic and consumer-directed approach to healthcare – one that helps employees to become more aware of risks and more responsible for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The idea of adding wellness components to health plan programs is happening in all regions, the report says. "Globally, nearly three out of four respondents (72%) offer employees lifestyle and health education programs, while 63% offer personal health assessments."

"The clear interest all regions are showing in employee wellness is encouraging, and we expect that wellness features will play a greater role in managing global medical costs," said Nicole Serfontein, a senior international consultant with Towers Watson.

"In a global economy that will likely continue to experience medical inflation in the short and medium terms, these approaches supplement traditional methods by addressing some of the more common medical issues that drive up healthcare costs," said Serfontein.

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

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