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Employers Shifting Benefits Costs, Choices to Employees

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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As healthcare costs continue to rise, companies expect to give employees greater responsibility for choosing their benefits and contributing to the cost, according to a survey of senior finance executives by Prudential Financial Inc. and CFO Research Services.

The report, entitled The Future of Retirement and Employee Benefits: Finance Executives Share Their Perspectives, also shows that finance executives are increasingly looking at pension risk transfer and liability-driven investment strategies to reduce or eliminate defined-benefit-plan risks.

CFO Research Services surveyed 186 senior finance executives from U.S. companies with defined-benefit plans of $250 million or more to determine how employers deal with rising costs while still providing the best benefits possible.

"CFOs can't handle [the increasing volatility of healthcare premiums] because it's not predictive," says employee-benefits consultant (and HREOnline? columnist) Carol Harnett. "So they're ... moving the onus of coverage to the employees."

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Indeed, 16 percent of respondents already shift a larger portion of costs for healthcare coverage to employees, 65 percent say they are likely to do so, and more than half of those say they are "very likely" to take this action. Fifteen percent also already describe their benefits as "employee choice" models, and 29 percent say they'll adopt that model in two years.

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