The survey of more than 70 leading health care insurers, representing more than 100 million insured individuals, forecasts an average 10.6 percent increase in health care costs for the 12-month periods beginning this year between April and September.
According to the survey, actuaries expect costs to increase by 10.6 percent for health maintenance organization plans, 10.5 percent for point of service plans, 10.7 percent for preferred provider organizations and 10.5 percent for consumer-directed health care plans.
The increases are slightly lower than those projected a year ago and are the lowest since the study began in 2001. In 2007, forecasters saw a 10.9 percent increase in health care costs, and a 16 percent increase in costs was projected in 2002, the highest rate since the study began.
“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,” John Zern, Chicago-based Aon Consulting’s U.S. health and benefits practice director, said in a statement. “This is a step in the right direction for companies nationwide that continue to feel significant health care price pressures.”
The study also found prescription drug costs are expected to increase 9.2 percent, down slightly from the increasing trend of 9.5 percent a year ago.