Employers' healthcare costs rise 6.1% in 2005

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Healthcare costs for U.S. employers increased by 6.1% this year. That compares to a rise of 15% at the beginning of the decade, according to a new survey.

The lower costs are due, in part, to companies' shifting costs to workers via higher deductibles and other strategies -- and changing vendors, according to the National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2005.

Businesses spent an average of $7,089 per worker to provide health coverage in 2005, according to a survey by Mercer Health & Benefits LLC. Costs could increase 6.7% in 2006, Mercer said.

The report can be ordered for $500 at http://www.mercerhr.com/ushealthplansurvey. It will become available in March 2006.

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