Businesses braced for rise in employee healthcare costs as NHS reforms bite

Half of employers believe they will need to shoulder more of the healthcare burden

Senior HR and finance professionals in the UK’s largest businesses expect reforms to the NHS to hit their corporate balance sheets dearly, according to research published this week.

Almost half (47%) of respondents to a study carried out by London South Bank University predict an increase in per-employee health benefit costs resulting from government health reforms. Just 4% think the reforms will result in a decrease.

The survey, sponsored by health solutions company vielife, also shows that there is confusion over employers’ expected responsibilities. There is also too much focus on cutting public spending rather than improving public health, according to 30% of survey respondents.

More than half of respondents (58%) believe UK employers are already bearing much of the economic burden of ill health costs, chronic disease and incapacity and 49% think many of the UK workforce’s health problems are attributable to generally worsening public health.

Professor Nicola Crichton of London South Bank University’s Institute of Primary Care & Public Health said that while "prevention is more effective than cure" in the pursuit of lower health spending, improving public attitudes to wellbeing to reduce pressure on the public health purse requires a "committed, single minded and consistent" approach across public services, the private sector and workplaces.

100 telephone interviews were conducted with 50 HR and 50 finance senior decision makers in UK public and private sector organisations with over 1,000 employees during April 2011.

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