HEALTH-CARE costs rise, but hospitals may not be the main culprit.
Employers say their health-care costs will rise 9.7% in 2000, up from 7.5% in both 1999 and 1998, according to a study from Watson Wyatt Worldwide, Bethesda, Md., and two other groups. But the study adds that health-care providers like hospitals say their fees will rise only 3%. Why the disparity? Watson Wyatt says it is due to more use of services; high cost of drugs, which are accounted for separately; and a move by insurers to improve their bottom lines by passing on costs, rather than absorbing them to gain market share.
Guess who will pay? The study says 70% of employers plan to pass some of the costs on to employees. Companies also plan to negotiate more with insurers and to help workers better match plans with needs. The study, done with the Washington Business Group on Health and the Healthcare Financial Management Association, Westchester, Ill., covered 503 employers, 953 providers and 69 big health plans.