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CANADIAN EMPLOYERS BEGIN TO REVAMP BENEFIT PROGRAMS

 TORONTO, Nov. 24 ~PRNewswire~ -- Employee benefit programs in Canada are coming under close scrutiny as employers begin to deal with rising costs, a new study finds.
 More than one-half (54 percent) of the 533 Canadian employers surveyed either have altered their benefit plan, or intend to make changes by the end of 1992. Some employers are asking employees to share more of the cost of coverage, while others are streamlining their administrative processes to control costs.
 The survey, conducted by Foster Higgins, the international employee benefits consulting firm, also reported that only one of 10 Canadian employers have determined the future liability of providing health benefits to retirees.
 "Employer-sponsored benefit programs have become a heavy financial burden for many organizations," said Guy Jobin, a principal in the Toronto office of Foster Higgins. "Benefit costs, particularly for supplemental benefits, are spiraling upward, and employers are beginning to recognize the need to bring them under control."
 Nearly three of four respondents (73 percent) said their benefit costs rose significantly in 1991, and nearly as many (67 percent) expect another increase in 1992. The survey showed Canadian employers spent an average $1,405 per employee in 1991 for group benefits (life, disability, health, dental, vision and prescription drugs).
 Rising benefit expenses have resulted in employees sharing more of the cost. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents will have changed their health plan design -- often with higher deductibles and co-insurance amounts -- by year's end. Some employers are attempting to control cost by introducing a cap on coverage, lowering existing caps or discontinuing coverage for certain services.
 "Employers are rethinking their cost sharing strategies," noted Jobin. "However, employers have been slow to raise employee contributions for health coverage." Only 11 percent increased any required employee contribution in the past two years or plan to raise it by the end of 1992.
 ~delval~
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 ~CONTACT: Guy Jobin, 416-867-4412, or Mike Baker, 514-878-1780, both of Foster Higgins~


CO: Foster Higgins ST: IN: INS SU: ECO

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 24, 1992
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