Tuesday, August 12, 2008

10.6% increase foreseen in health-care costs

WASHINGTON - Health-care costs are expected to rise 10.6 percent into next year, the smallest increase since 2002, according to a survey of insurers by Aon Consulting Worldwide.

Costs are rising to keep up with growing patient demand for services and the needs of an aging population, and because of prescription drugs and technology. Experts say the latest survey shows that efforts to tame costs, such as employee wellness or disease management programs, may be paying off. "There's a variety of tactics that employers have been employing over the last three to six years that has had an impact," said study director Bill Sharon.

Aon Consulting surveyed about 70 health insurers around the country, including companies such as Aetna and Cigna.

The expected 10.6 percent increase, during the 12-month rating period starting this year between April and September, represents a slight drop from last year's forecast of 10.9 percent. But the percentage likely won't be what the average employee faces for a premium increase next year. It doesn't reflect insurance plan designs or changes an employer might make to benefits plans.

"Pretty much every employer has to do something or is doing something in an effort to bring that number down," Sharon said.

click here: 10.6% increase foreseen in health-care costs News & Observer