Higher health premiums to shrink paychecks?

Workers will pay more for their health care next year as companies prepare for the health care overhaul, according to a newly released survey.

About 63 percent of businesses plan to make employees pay a higher percentage of their premium costs in 2011, says the National Business Group on Health, which surveyed 72 companies that employ more than 3.7 million people.

Around 46 percent of those companies say they plan to raise the maximum level of out-of-pocket costs that workers must pay, and expect the costs of health-care benefits to rise an average of 8.9 percent next year.

The health care legislation, signed into law in March by President Barack Obama, will contribute an estimated 1 percentage point to the higher expense, and employee-paid portions may see small increases, the group estimates.

But some say employers may be using the health-care law to cover for changes they already planned to make to their benefits.

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