Rising health insurance premiums hit small employers particularly hard last year, prompting many to raise workers' share of premiums, copayments and deductibles, reduce benefits and switch carriers, according to a survey of 12 metropolitan areas by the Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington. Small firms, those with fewer than 50 employees, saw premiums increase an average of 14.5% in 2001, compared with 10.8% for midsize firms and 10.2% for large firms. In all 12 areas surveyed, small firms shifted more costs to employees. Eight areas said small firms reduced their premium contributions; six areas reported carrier changes; five reported reduced eligibility; and three reported benefit cutbacks. Only 62% of small businesses offered health insurance in 2001, compared with 97% of larger firms. Click here for the study and related documents. -- by Laura B. Benko
Small employers react to rising premiums: study
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