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 NEW ORLEANS, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Employers appear to be wrestling with health care reform issues as much as average Americans. Only 21 percent of the benefits managers and chief financial officers (CFOs) responding to a recent survey, sponsored by CIGNA Group Insurance, said they were very familiar with health care reform issues. Most said they were somewhat familiar (68 percent) or not very familiar (11 percent) with the issues.
 Most employers also had done very little (37 percent) or no (21 percent) contingency planning, according to the survey. It polled 300 employee benefits managers and chief financial officers in U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. The findings were presented by Margaret B. Spyers, vice president, marketing, for CIGNA Group Insurance at the 1994 Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) meeting here.
 The telephone survey conducted by The Answer Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, polled 263 benefits managers and 37 CFOs in early March. Respondents answered general questions on health care reform and how it will affect their benefits operations. Responses were compared for small employers with 100 to 499 employees, mid-sized employers with 500 to 2,500 employees, and large employers with more than 2,500 employees.
 Large employers were more likely to be very familiar with health care issues (43 percent, compared with 13 percent of small employers and 20 percent of mid-sized employers). More than half the large employers reported that they had done some (48 percent) or a lot (9 percent) of contingency planning.
 More than half (55 percent) of the respondents described the availability of health care as a problem, not a crisis, that can be fixed by market competition. Some 32 percent said it is a crisis that needed to be fixed in the near future. Only 8 percent said it was a severe crisis that needed immediate attention.
 Among small employers, 12 percent said health care availability was a severe crisis, 27 said it was a crisis and 58 percent said it was a problem. Among large employers, 41 percent saw health care availability as a crisis and 54 percent said it was a problem.
 Even if health care reform requires employers to extend health care benefits to part-time workers, most respondents were less likely to extend non-health care benefits. Sixty-two percent disagreed with the need to extend non-health care benefits. Only 38 percent agreed. Large employers were less likely to extend benefits to part-timers (22 percent, compared with 39 percent of small employers and 42 percent of mid-sized employers).
 Sixty percent of the respondents gave the Clinton health care proposal little or no chance of passage. In fact, 42 percent gave it no chance at all.
 "Whatever health care reform emerges -- and something will emerge -- employers will need to consider how it will affect their entire benefits program," Spyers said during the RIMS session, "Health Care Reform and the Rest of Your Benefit Package."
 Also participating in the session were Stuart A. Weston, director, risk management, School Board of Pinellas County; Allan DeNiro, corporate vice president-human resources, for Turner Broadcasting Corporation; and Michael J. Murphy, account supervisor, Hewitt Associates, Atlanta.
 CIGNA Group Insurance is a leading provider of group disability insurance and disability management services, the industry leader in group accident insurance -- including voluntary accident, business travel and occupational accident insurance -- and one of the top ten providers of group life insurance. CIGNA Group Insurance products are underwritten by Life Insurance Company of North America and other CIGNA companies. CIGNA businesses rank among the largest health care, insurance and financial services organizations in the United States, with more than 45,000 employees, and also include one of the largest U.S. based international insurance organizations. CIGNA Corporation (NYSE: CI) has consolidated assets of approximately $85 billion and shareholders' equity of approximately $6.5 billion.
 -0- 4/19/94
 /CONTACT: James Ely of CIGNA, 215-761-4759/

CO: CIGNA Corporation ST: Pennsylvania IN: INS SU:

MJ -- PH034 -- 8213 04/19/94 15:46 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 19, 1994

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