The breakneck pace of healthcare cost increases is likely to ease next year, although increases are still expected to be three to five times greater than general inflation, according to a poll of 65 health insurers and pharmacy benefit managers. HMO premiums are projected to rise 13.7% in 2004, down from a 14.4% increase this year, according to the survey by benefits consultant Segal Co., New York. PPO premiums are projected to jump 14.4%, compared with 14.5% this year. Meanwhile, retail prescription drug costs, the fastest growing component of health plan expenses, are set to rise 18.1% next year, compared with 19.5% this year. -- by Laura B. Benko
Healthcare inflation set to slow -- but not much
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