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Health care costs will rise by double-digits in 2007 absent any plan changes, a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. projects.
Preferred provider organization costs will increase the most--11.9%--while HMO costs will climb slightly less--11.8%. Consumer-driven health plans are expected to experience the least growth, though costs will still surge 10.7%, PwC researchers found.
Although medical costs are expected to increase by double digits, the corresponding premium increases could be lower, since the rate of increase in these costs are just one of several factors health plans use to base their premiums, PwC researchers explain.
Moreover, employers can influence premiums through strategic and creative benefit plan design changes, suggests Jack Rodgers, managing director of PwC's Health Policy Economics Group, which conducted the study.
Among the factors contributing to the double-digit increases in medical costs are:
To come up with its findings, PwC surveyed major health plans, insurers and third-party administrators in the summer of 2006, asking a series of questions about the trends on which they are basing 2007 premiums. Researchers also reviewed publicly available reports from firms that survey employers about their health plan costs.
A detailed analysis of medical cost trends is published in the report, "Behind the Numbers: Medical Cost Trends for 2007," which is available free of charge on PwC's Web site to all who register. Visit http://pwc.com/2007healthcosttrends to view the report.