Projected cost increases for all types of medical plans are anticipated to decline by between 0.1 percent and 0.5 percent in 2014, according to results of a survey of insurers and administrators in the United States by Buck Consultants. The results show the trend of slow, steady declines in medical plan costs since 2010 is continuing.
In a national survey of 126 insurers and administrators, Buck Consultants measured the projected annual increase in employer-provided health care benefit costs. Insurers and administrators providing medical trends for the survey cover a total of approximately 119 people.
The 28th National Health Care Trend Survey found costs are projected to increase at rates that are lower than its recent prior surveys. For example, costs for preferred-provider organization plans could rise by 8.7 percent this year compared to 9 percent in 2013, according to the survey.
Health care maintenance organization plans could increase by 8.6 percent, compared to 9.1 percent in 2013. Some survey respondents cited reduced utilization as the primary reason for the decrease in health plan costs. “This may be a result of the economic slowdown and its impact on consumers’ willingness to seek medical treatment,” said Harvey Sobel, a principal at Buck Consultants and co-author of the survey.
“Even though the decline is good news, most plan sponsors till find 8-9 percent cost increases unsustainable.” According to a Los Angeles Times article on the results of the survey, some experts attribute the slowdown to the remaining effects of the Great Recession. Others say the health care options through the Affordable Care Act are contributing factors, according to the article.
“It’s too soon to tell the impact of public and private health exchanges on trend,” said Daniel Levin, a principal at Buck Consultants and co-author of the survey. “It may take another few years before we really know if (and by how much) the exchanges will ‘bend’ the cost curve.”
More information: http://bit.ly/1qPMxdS