Premiums rose more slowly at consumer-driven health plans last year than at traditional insurance plans, according to a national survey of 12,176 health plans by United Benefit Advisors, Indianapolis, an alliance of independent benefit-advisory firms. Premiums at consumer-driven plans rose an average of 3.4% in late 2004 and early 2005, compared with 9.6% for all plans. According to the survey, only 2.6% of employers currently offer consumer-driven plans -- which pair a high-deductible insurance policy with a personal savings account -- although a significant number said they were considering doing so next year. The group expects to release further details in two weeks with the results of a companion survey. Overall, employers expected to see an average rate increase of 12.2% next year, prior to price negotiations, benefit design changes and cancellations. That jibes with a preliminary report issued in June by Hewitt Associates, which found that 2006 rate increases for large-group HMOs were averaging 12.6% before any plan changes. Hewitt projected that final rates would rise 8% to 9%.-- by Laura B. Benko
Lower premium growth seen at consumer-driven plans
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