Winning Health Benefit Concessions Remains Top Employer Priority, Survey Says
Two-thirds of surveyed employers said they would most like to gain concessions in healthcare/insurance benefits when conducting 2006 contract negotiations, according to BNA's annual Employer Bargaining Objectives survey, which sampled manufacturers, service/nonmanufacturing firms and nonbusiness entities (healthcare facilities, educational institutions and government agencies).
Healthcare provisions on cost-sharing in new contracts will be a leading target, the report found. Though most covered workers already contribute to health insurance costs through copayments, deductibles or premium contributions, about 48 percent of survey respondents will bargain to increase workers' existing payments and 14 percent will add new cost-sharing provisions in 2006.
Other findings from the bargaining survey are:
- Manufacturing firms are among those most likely to consider cost-sharing increases for health benefits.
- In addition to cost-sharing increases, some employers will look to trim related health insurance benefits -- prescription drug coverage (28 percent), doctor visits (25 percent), hospital coverage (22 percent) and surgical coverage (21 percent).
- Employers will seek union concessions in a variety of areas beyond healthcare, including pensions/retirement (29 percent), wages (28 percent), job security (17 percent) and paid leave benefits (16 percent).
- Nearly six in 10 employers (58 percent) said they would consider making concessions to unions on wages.
- Paid leave benefits are lesser targets for cutbacks this year than last -- 17 percent of employers said they were willing to add or increase paid leave benefits and 17 percent said they would reduce or eliminate such benefits. Employers seeking to reduce paid leave benefits outnumbered those willing to improve such benefits by a two-to-one margin last year.
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