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Health care premiums still rising, but at slower rate: Survey

Health care premiums still rising, but at slower rate: Survey

Group medical benefits costs are continuing to rise 18 months after passage of federal health care reform legislation, though the increases appear to be moderating, according to a survey of brokers conducted by the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers.

The council's November Employee Benefits Market Survey, which queried CIAB members about their clients' premium increases, found that small groups with 50 or fewer employees saw the largest increases, with 39% averaging rises of 11% to 20%. That compares with 62% reporting increases in that range in the council's May survey.

Sixty-nine percent of midsize groups with 51 to 500 employees experienced increases in the 6% to 15% range, down from 75% reporting such increases in May.

Meanwhile, 14% of large employers with more than 500 employees reported no increases in November, compared with 5% in the May survey.

“Our latest survey indicated that premium increases have ebbed somewhat after the initial shock and uncertainty following the enactment of PPACA in 2010,” Ken A. Crerar, president and CEO of the Washington-based council, said in a statement.

He theorized that “the market has begun to adjust to initial new requirements in health care reform, but some uncertainty may persist as additional aspects are phased in over the next several years.”

Despite lower premium increases on renewals, council members remain apprehensive about the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the council said.

Ninety-seven percent of brokers responding to the November survey expressed some level of concern about the impact of PPACA on their business, with 51% saying they were “very concerned” and 46% saying they were “somewhat concerned.”

In the council's May survey, 100% of responding members expressed some level of concern about the impact of PPACA, with 59% saying they were “very concerned.”