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Byline: Amy Schatz
Sep. 11--It's no surprise that health insurance costs are expected to rise again next year. But the size of those increases, now projected to average from 10 percent to 20 percent for 2002, has left employers struggling to cover the costs.
Higher premiums and sparser benefits will be unwelcome surprises for many employees this fall as they sign up for next year's health insurance.
Last year, many employers, especially in the high-tech sector, swallowed the higher rates. But this year, a weaker economy and a less-competitive hiring environment have prompted many employers to pass along the higher costs to employees.
"We've been going through constant soul-searching on how to handle" increased costs, said Martin Blank, a principal at Accent Food Services, an Austin-based coffee and vending machine operator founded in 1986.
Health-care costs for Accent's 70 employees will rise …