How to destroy buy-in (Editorial)

By John Hobel
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/29/2004

Those darn health-care costs. Governments have been fighting to control them for nearly two decades, and yet health care remains a hot topic for voters come election time. At their workplaces these same voters are faced with employers pressured to halt the steady rise in corporate benefits costs. For HR departments, benefit cost control has become an ongoing chore.

This issue’s front-page story on benefits reports employees are willing to ante up to protect their corporate health plans. Pharmaceutical firm Aventis Pharma polled 1,500 Canadian workers and found 50 per cent are willing to pay higher premiums. That’s good news for employers struggling with costs and hard decisions about coverage levels. It gives HR room to manoeuvre when reviewing and renegotiating benefit plans. But employers must be careful not to squander this opportunity. Employee willingness to pay more doesn’t mean HR has a free hand to increase premiums.

Benefit plan stewards need look no further than Ontario’s May budget to see how the apparent willingness to pay more for health care can be squandered.