Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Slammin’ on the Brakes...

For the fourth year in a row, rate increases on group plans have slowed. These costs are expected to rise by 8% this year, as compared to 10% last year (YMMV).
According to a new study, more than 8 out of 10 companies surveyed said that their group health costs were at (or even below) last year’s.
Some of this is due, no doubt, by an increase in employers’ proactive methods: almost half conduct eligibility audits or will begin doing so (these are for the purpose of identifying which employees and/or dependents who should be on a spouse’s coverage).
One out of four plan to implement programs to improve their employees’ health. Another third plan to start encouraging more judicious use of health care services. And a third plans to increase employees’ accountability in managing their health.
Ah, personal responsibility: is there anything it can’t do?
North of the border, though, things don’t look so peachy: according to a survey of our neighbors to the north, 2006 premium increases are projected to be 13% (that’s about 60% higher than here). Here’s the takeaway quote: “the survey results show that in spite of employers efforts to contain costs through cost-sharing, managed formularies, and flexible benefits, health and dental costs are still rising more quickly than other group benefit plan components.” Oy, Canada!
What was that about a nationalized health care system here?
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