Amid rising health care costs and other economic worries, a majority of large U.S. employers remain confident they will continue to offer health care benefits to workers 10 years from now. However, the level of confidence has slipped from last year due to economic concerns and uncertainty over the implications of potential health care reform, according to a new survey by Watson Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health, an association of more than 300 mostly large employers.

Conducted in January, the survey of 489 large U.S. employers finds 62% are very confident they will continue to offer health care benefits 10 years from now, down from 73% last year. The survey also found that, due to today´s economic uncertainty, roughly 59% have either revamped their current health care strategy or expect to do so this year.

"This is the first time in the 14 years that we have conducted this survey that employer confidence has declined, and it is not related to an increase in cost trends," says Ted Nussbaum, North America director of group and health care consulting at Watson Wyatt. "This clearly reflects the uncertainty among large employers over the impact that the fragile economy is having on their ability to stay competitive in the face of health care costs that persistently rise at double the rate of general inflation."

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