|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
As businesses contend with rising costs, many workers face an erosion of health benefits next year, according to an annual survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.
Forty percent of employers surveyed said they are likely to increase the amount their workers pay out of pocket for doctor visits. Almost as many said they are likely to raise annual deductibles and the amount workers pay for prescription drugs.
Nine percent said they plan to tighten eligibility for health benefits; 8 percent said they plan to drop coverage entirely. Forty-one percent of employers said they are "somewhat" or "very" likely to increase the amount employees pay in premiums -- though that would not necessarily mean employees would pay a higher percentage of the premiums. Employers could simply be passing along the same share of the overall increase that they are doing this year.
The authors of the study said the findings underscore the need for federal action to rein in costs.
The survey is one of several reports providing fresh ammunition to President Obama as he struggles to overhaul the nation's health-care system. One of his biggest challenges has been winning over Americans who are satisfied with their existing coverage.
A major business lobby weighed in Tuesday, saying that if current trends continue, annual health-care costs for employers will rise 166 percent over the next decade -- to $28,530 per employee.
"Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option," said Antonio M. Perez, chief executive of Eastman Kodak and a leader of the Business Roundtable. "These costs are unsustainable and would put millions of workers at risk," Perez said in a statement.