Employer plan costs up 10% in a struggling US economy

November 1, 2009
Tracey Walker
Tracey Walker

She is senior editor of Managed Healthcare Executive.

New survey shows financial pain for employers and employees with few good options to manage the trend

CHICAGO-Healthcare costs for employer-sponsored health plans are expected to increase by more than 10% in 2010, according to a survey of more than 60 health insurance companies.

Aon Consulting, surveyed plans serving more than 100 million insured individuals.

"While we're seeing a slight decrease in the trend rates, it's still at double digits, and this year, it's compounded by a struggling economy, layoffs and salary freezes or reductions," says Tom Lerche, healthcare practice leader for Aon Consulting.

THREE WAYS TO SHAPE PLANS

Because the spiraling cost trend for the next 12 months is expected to increase 10% or more, plan sponsors are focused on tactics and strategies to reduce medical trend to mid- to low-single digits.

"Given the financial pain on both companies and employees from the recession, employers are re-examining changes in health plan options, plans design, and clinical solutions which may have been rejected in 2008," Lerche says. "In particular, employers are conducting audits to saving money in the short run and designing and implementing wellness strategies for long-term impact."

According to Lerche, there are three ways most plan sponsors may shape their plan offerings for 2010:

Additionally, prescription drug cost increases are expected. The Aon survey projects drug costs will increase 9.3% in 2010, slightly lower than the 9.4% trend rate one year ago.