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Healthcare claims costs for employer-sponsored plans rises


A survey by Aon Consulting indicates double-digit increases in claims costs for 2009 but employers can reduce costs with new strategies

Healthcare claims costs for employer-sponsored health plans are expected to increase about 10.5% over the next 12 months, according to an Aon Consulting Worldwide report.

“While this percentage is lower than it has been over the past few years, it is much higher than general inflation and much higher than wage increases,” Bill Sharon, senior vice president, Aon Consulting, tells MHE. “Employers will be challenged to come up with healthcare strategies and tactics to bring this rate of increase down.”

There are a variety of strategies available to employers including consumer-driven healthcare, chronic condition management programs, wellness programs, financial incentives for members, retail clinic services, onsite clinics and medical tourism.

“Many employers have learned that effectively tackling healthcare cost increases requires using some elements of all of these strategies,” he says. “The cost problem is too great to be handled with just one or two strategies.”

For most employers, healthcare costs are one of their fastest growing expense items, according to Sharon. “Managed care executives should expect a lot of push back from employers to health plan rate increases,” he predicts. “Health plans should be prepared to offer alternative plan designs and alternative cost management strategies to lower the rate of increase.”

A survey of about 70 U.S. health insurers regarding their 12-month rating periods beginning this year between April and September led to the Aon report.

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