Announcing survey findings "that will likely not surprise many businesses in the U.S.,” Wells Fargo Insurance reports that the cost of claims in employer-sponsored health plans will continue to rise. In an overview of 70 insurance companies nationwide conducted between July and August, Wells Fargo reports that rates remain consistent with six months ago, but overall claims costs will grow by high single digits next year.
“Despite ongoing efforts to control health care expenses, the survey found that insurers are not expecting a drop in claim costs for 2013,” says Dan Gowen, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Insurance’s national employee benefits practice. “This means that employer premiums will likely rise, and it’s also likely consumers may pay more for their share of employer-sponsored health care plans. Employers seeking to minimize cost increases should explore more sophisticated ways to maintain and improve the health risk of employees and maximize their benefit investment.”
The survey further reveals that improvements in dental technology and a lack of cost-shifting from public to private plans have kept dental cost trends below medical ones on the whole. Also, prescription costs are down slightly, helped by the prevalence of generic drugs.
In addition to national health care reform, Wells Fargo says price trends are influenced by inflation or deflation, use of services, population age, leveraging effect on benefit design, changes in provider treatment patterns, cost shifting and technological improvements.
Reflecting claim activity over a six-month period, projected national average cost of claims increases include:
HMOs – 8.5%
Point-of-sale – 8.7%
PPOs and consumer driver health plans – 9.3%
EPOs – 9.4%
Indemnity plans – 10.2%
Prescription plans – 7.6%
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