Employers in 2012 limited the growth of health benefit cost per employee to 4.1%, down from 6.1% last year, and the lowest increase since 1997, according to the latest Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans released today. In 2012, the total health benefit cost per employee averaged $10,558. The annual survey, which includes public and private organizations with 10 or more employees, shows that employers expect a relatively low increase of 5% for 2013 after changes they plan to make to reduce costs. "Employers are very aware that in 2014, when the health reform law's provisions kick in, they will be asked to cover more employees and face added cost pressure," said Julio Portalatin, president and CEO of Mercer. "They've taken bold steps to soften the impact and it's paying off already."