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Wisconsin employers paying less on health care than national average

Wisconsin's largest employers will spend 3.7 percent more this year on health care, much less than the national average.

That's according to the benefit consulting firm of Towers Perrin.

It puts the Wisconsin increase below the 4 percent rate for medical inflation, and a 6.1 percent national hike in large employer health costs.

Dave Osterndorf of Towers Perrin says Wisconsin firms have tried hard to control their health expenses and they've lasted long enough to succeed.

Employees have shouldered more of the burden with higher co-payments. Their bosses have given them a wide array of programs which encourage them to stop smoking, eat better and exercise more.

At some workplaces, those who don't live healthy pay more for their insurance. That's especially true for smokers.

Even with all these efforts, Wisconsin remains an expensive state for health care.

Towers Perrin says the largest employers pay 7 percent more than the national average.

For years, surveys have shown that health costs in the Milwaukee region are up to 55 percent higher than in similar U.S. metros.