Over the past five years, the average U.S. worker has seen his health care costs double. Unfortunately, insurance costs are project to rise 8 percent next year, both in payroll contributions and out-of-pocket spending.

According to a new study by Hewitt Associates, the combined premium and out-of-pocket costs for health-care coverage will climb to more than $3,300 per year. Employers will pay an annual tab of $8,304 per person.

That’s a lot of cash out of a company’s bottom line, which is why more companies are eliminating health benefits, or changing to high-deductible plans that shift more of the health care burden to their employees.

Unfortunately, that’s a tough nut to crack. In many cases, employees can’t handle the rising cost of health care. With wages stagnant and housing costs rising, health insurance sometimes drops off the radar screen.

What can you do? Start saving for “sick” days in addition to “rainy” days.

With practical, informative consumer advice, I’m Ilyce Glink, News-Talk 750 WSB