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Health Insurance Costs Jump for Employers and Employees

If you offer your workers an employer-sponsored health plan or intend on doing so, you’d better be prepared to dig deeper in your pockets to pay for it, a new survey finds. That's because the cost of filed health insurance claims continues to increase, which is expected to trigger a similar increase in employer premiums.

Although the rate claims costs increase is slightly smaller than it was six months ago, the survey of more than 60 insurance companies by Wells Fargo Insurance Systems found that  the overall cost of claims will continue to increase in the low double digits.

Claims costs for health maintenance organizations (HMO) and point-of-sale plans (POS) saw a 9.6 percent increase while preferred provider organizations (PPO) and consumer-driven health plans (CDHP) experienced a 10 percent increase.

Exclusive provider organizations (EPO) had a 10.6 percent increase, indemnity plans claims rose 11.1 percent and prescription plans were up 8.7 percent.
The continued cost increases suggest employer premiums will rise at a similar rate as insurance companies anticipate costs based on claims trends, said Dan Gowen, a Wells Fargo senior vice president.

"Our survey results show that employers continue to seek sophisticated ways to manage employee health risk , stretch their employee benefit dollars and minimize costs," said Gowen.  "That’s especially true as insurers expect higher claim costs as a result of market changes brought on by federal health care reform."

A key factor elevating claims costs, the survey found, was health care reform provisions, the survey found. In addition, claim cost is influenced by increased use of health care services, aging U.S. population, improvements in medical technology and drug therapies, use of specialty drugs to treat complex diseases, changes in provider treatment patterns and inflation.

The one piece of good news that the survey found was that claims costs for dental and vision benefit products remained stable.