WASHINGTON, DC — Data compiled by the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) reveals a sharp increase over the past year in group health insurance premiums paid by industry employers. Information was provided by more than 500 wholesale distribution companies of all sizes and across all lines of trades, 99% of which offer health insurance as an employee benefit.

According to NAW, the average increase is 19%. Only wholesaler-distributors with more than 500 employees deviate to any significant extent from the industry norm. The average increase for these large employers is 16%.

NAW also says that 95% of the companies participating in the study said that if the current trend continues, they plan to implement a combination of cost-cutting options including higher employee premium contributions, higher deductibles, and dropping coverages, that will, at a minimum, increase employees’ exposure to escalating medical costs.

“The cost of offering health insurance as an employee benefit is exerting ever-increasing pressure on the bottom lines of wholesaler-distributors,” said NAW president Dirk Van Dongen. “Employers in the industry are telling us with crystal clarity that a serious search is now underway for effective ways to alleviate that pressure.”

NAW is currently working to provide wholesaler-distributors with an affordable option for private health insurance, and recently unveiled a new association-sponsored program with Flexible Benefit Service Corporation (FBSC) as its partner.

According to George Valiga, vice president and general manager of the NAW Service Corporation (NAWSC), “FBSC provides wholesaler-distributors with a powerful new healthcare alternative to combat double-digit insurance premium increases that threaten to make current coverage unaffordable.”

For information on the program, visit http://naw.flexiblebenefit.com (website).

Publication date: 04/22/2002