Monday, September 22, 2008

Health Care Cost Studies

  • Business Insurance reports that
    In 2008, group health care costs increased by an average of 6.0%, to $8,331 per employee, and are projected to rise next year by 6.4%, according to an analysis released Monday by Hewitt Associates Inc. of Lincolnshire, Ill. The analysis is based on information from more than 400 employers.

    This year's 6.0% average increase is up from a 5.3% increase in 2007 but is substantially lower than 2006’s average increase of 7.9% and the 9.2% hike in 2005.  * * * As health care plan costs have risen, cost-shifting to employees also has increased. For example, employees' total health plan costs—which include out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles and copayments, as well as premium contributions—averaged $3,513 per employee in 2008, up 9.9% from 2007. Copies of Hewitt's health care cost analysis are available at

  • The Chicago Tribune expands on the cost shifting aspect of this Hewitt study.

  • On a related note, the Wall Street Journal reports that

    As the credit crunch threatens to throw the economy into a deep slump, Americans are already cutting back on health care, a sector once thought to be invulnerable to recession. Spending on everything from doctors' appointments to preventive tests to prescription drugs is under pressure. * * *

    In a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners last month, 22% of 686 consumers said that economy-related woes were causing them to go to the doctor less often. About 11% said they've scaled back on prescription drugs to save money. Some of the areas being hit include hip and knee replacements, mammograms, and visits to the emergency room, according to a survey conducted by D2Hawkeye Inc., a Waltham, Mass., medical data analytics firm, on behalf of The Wall Street Journal.

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