The New Year began with a wince for many employers around the country as they saw their health insurance premium costs increase once again, some by double-digit percentages. The recession, medical cost inflation, and uncertainty over health care reform dealt a punishing blow to employer-sponsored health care programs, forcing the majority of organizations to pass some of the cost increases on to their employees. Still, despite the trying times, some employers were able to hold their rates steady.

J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. and AZCO, Inc. are two Wisconsin-based companies that enjoyed a 0% increase in premium rates for 2011. Though the companies operate in different industries - AZCO is a contractor in heavy industrial construction, while J. J. Keller is a publishing and services company that serves a variety of markets in compliance matters - they employed remarkably similar strategies to control health insurance costs. Both organizations used a two-pronged approach to cost containment: advancing wellness initiatives, and enhancing employee communication and education. And both companies' trusted and long-term relationships with their benefits consultants were key in supporting these efforts.

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