Health-Care Costs Rising, But Workers Most Concerned About Retirement

A survey of employee-benefits specialists and the employees they service shows health-care costs and retirement issues are major concerns -- but not for both groups. The U.S.-based survey was conducted by the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS) and the Human Capital Advisory Services practice of Deloitte & Touche consultants. Respondents to the annual survey totaled 280 for 2000. The survey found that for employee-benefits specialists, the rising cost of health care for employers topped a list of concerns for the second year in a row. Seventy percent of respondents cited the issue as their No. 1 priority. From the employees' perspective, retirement issues dominated concerns, with four out of five priority issues identified by respondents being related to retirement. ISCEBS says the retirement concerns reflect the growing percentage of the workforce approaching retirement age. Meanwhile, the rising cost of health care is on the mind of few employees because they haven't been asked to pay more for care yet. "The labor market continues to be extraordinarily tight, leaving employers somewhat reluctant to pass on health-care cost increases to employees," says Debora Karstetter, president of ISCEBS. "They may do so in the near future, but as of right now, employees have not been directly impacted."

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