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Study says employees can expect to pay larger share of health costs

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Wisconsin employees can expect to pay a larger share of their health costs next year.

That's according to a survey of companies by the benefit consulting firm of Mercer.

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Many small firms kept their costs in check by raising deductibles this year and the survey by Mercer said larger companies would join them in 2010.

Forty-one percent of firms said they'll increase their workers' share of deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket maximums.

And 46 percent said workers would pay a higher share of their monthly premiums.

Wednesday, Mercer said those premiums are 22 percent higher in Wisconsin than they are nationally.

Dustin Conrad of Mercer says one reason is that the Badger State has lower annual deductibles.

They average $654 a year in Wisconsin, compared to almost 1,100 throughout the nation.

Also, more companies encourage their employees to modify their behavior to try and keep health costs down.

Fifty-one percent of large firms in Wisconsin offered programs to help workers do things like lose weight or manage stress.

That's up from 39 percent in 2008. And apparently, it's paying off.

Mercer said companies with health modification programs averaged 2 percent less on their health increases this year.

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