Before Sept. 11, the short-term prognosis for keeping a lid on health care benefit costs was not good. If the economy sinks into recession, it will get even worse.

A Watson Wyatt Worldwide survey of 200 large companies says employees will pay an average of 14 percent more for benefits next year. Many will have higher copayments for prescriptions and higher deductibles for hospital and doctor visits.

Insurers cite three factors: The aging U.S. population, advances in medical technology, and greater bargaining power on the part of hospitals in their negotiations with managed care organizations.

SOURCE: HEALTH CARE COSTS 2002, WATSON WYATT WORLDWIDE