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Your Benefit, Your Cost

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Here's a cohort that's destined to grow in the next two years: workers whose health-insurance premiums have risen sharply. A Harris poll of corporate human-resources directors finds 75 percent expecting employee premiums to rise, pushed up by "out-of-control" increases in healthcare costs. Seventy percent said their companies plan to increase employees' share of the costs, and 68 percent expect a rise in the amount employees must pay for their dependents' coverage. Along the same lines, 38 percent expect to "significantly restrict or reduce" the prescription-drugs benefit, and 20 percent plan to "decrease the scope of covered benefits." For some workers, changes will be more severe: 6 percent of respondents expect some or all dependents to be lopped off the rolls. The small upside: 38 percent will boost the choice of plans offered to employees, while 59 percent will increase the choice of "voluntary benefits."