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What your boss thinks of health care reform

By Jen Haley, producer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- President Obama today signed sweeping health care reform legislation into law. But how do employers view the changes? And how could that impact your wallet?

Employers have been supportive of this reform -- that's according to Hewitt Associates -- a human resources consulting firm that's been helping companies understand health care reform.

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"The status quo just isn't sustainable," says Ken Sperling of Hewitt Associates.

It's estimated in the next five years, health care costs will go up 50% if history is any guide. That means companies that provide health care insurance and employees would be paying more.

How much more? Nine years ago, you were paying 15% of the cost. Last year, you shouldered 22% of the cost. And by 2019, it's estimated that 33% of the cost would have come out of your pocket. That's about $7,300 per year for health care. Your employer could be paying almost $15,000 per employee according to Hewitt.

1. Your policy might change

Employers may put an added emphasis on health and wellness programs. While some companies already use incentives to encourage employees to join a gym or take part in a survey. Others are penalizing those who choose not to participate.

In fact, according to a recent Hewitt Associates survey, nearly one-half of employers say they either already use or plan to use financial penalties over the next three to five years for employees who do not participate in certain health improvement programs

So, if you're a smoker, you may get a smoking surcharge.

The way companies market their health care plans may also change. Your company may roll out an interactive Web site, a number of seminars may be held or you may get a call from someone explaining your benefits.

Consumer-driven health plans may become more prevalent in the future. These are high deductible plans you can use with a special savings account.

2. What you should know

Remember, there won't be too many changes in the short term. But make sure you keep up to date on any changes that may be coming next year.

Read all the material that comes your way about your health insurance. And make sure you keep an open line of communication with your HR representative, in case you have any questions.

Talkback: Do you go online to check out your health insurance information? (See comments) To top of page

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