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Factor Lower Health Care Cost Growth into 2009 Budgets

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,People Management

Health care costs are expected to increase on average 10.6% in the next 12 months, the lowest percentage increase since 2001. That’s what Aon Consulting Worldwide found when it surveyed more than 70 health care insurers, representing more than 100 million insured individuals.

“While the medical trend rate is still more than twice the consumer price index, it is encouraging to see that health care cost rate increases are continuing to slow down,” said John Zern, who directs Aon’s U.S. health and benefits practice. “This is a step in the right direction for companies nationwide that continue to feel significant health care price pressures."

Health care costs are projected to increase by:

  • 10.5% for point of service plans
  • 10.5% for consumer-driven health plans
  • 10.6% for health maintenance organizations
  • 10.7% for preferred provider organizations

Across the board, those trend rates are slightly lower than one year ago.

Bill Sharon, who directed the survey, attributes the decrease in the medical trend rate to more employers and employees taking advantage of wellness, health promotion and consumer driven programs.

“But more must be done to truly stem the tide of rising health care costs. This includes greater senior management support for these programs, better employee communications and more consistent cooperation from the medical community,” Sharon said.

Prescription drug costs are expected to increase 9.2%, which is slightly lower than the 9.5% trend rate one year ago.
In addition, health care rate increases for retirees over the age of 65 are projected to be 7.3% for Medicare Supplement plans and 7.7% for Medicare Advantage plans.

Advice: Use this data to evaluate the rate quotes you receive from insurance providers or your broker. If you have a self-funded health plan, use it to develop future claim estimates for budgeting purposes.

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