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June 02, 2006
Healthcare Cost Increases to Ease Slightly

Healthcare costs for HMOs are expected to increase by 12.2 percent in the next 12 months, down from a 13.2-percent forecast of one year ago, according to a survey by Aon Consulting.

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The survey, which included more than 70 healthcare insurers, found that healthcare costs are projected to increase 12.4 percent for PPOs in the next 12 months, down from 13.0 percent one year ago. Healthcare costs for POS plans are expected to increase 11.9, down from 13.0 percent a year ago.

Meanwhile, consumer-driven health plans (CDH) are projected to increase by 12.5 percent, similar to a year ago when these plans were forecasted to increase 12.7 percent.

"This is the sixth year of double-digit increases in healthcare costs," says Bill Sharon, senior vice president with Aon Consulting and director of the study. "Employers have been responding to this by using a variety of strategies to control healthcare costs such as increasing deductibles and co-payments, expanding disease management programs, adding health promotion programs and introducing new consumer-driven health plans. While these initiatives are slowing the rate of increase, healthcare costs continue to grow at a pace that is three to four times the rate of general inflation."

Pharmacy costs are expected to increase by 12.2 percent, compared with 13.1 percent a year ago.

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