Healthcare benefit expenses are expected to slow to single-digit increases in 2008,
according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Private insurers are anticipating an average increase in medical costs of
9.9% for PPO, 9.9% for HMOs and point-of-service plans, and 7.4% for consumer-directed
health plans. That compares with the previous year when medical costs
rose 11.9%, 11.8% and 10.7% respectively.
The slowdown in cost increases was attributed to slower spending growth
for prescriptions, increased transparency and cost-sharing with
employees, total-health management approaches to benefits and greater use
of information technology and electronic medical records in
Still, healthcare costs are increasing and a reason for concern, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers in a news release, although the gap between national health spending and gross domestic product has been narrowing since 2004. The company also reported that it appears that the cost trend for consumer-directed health plans is running about 2.5 percentage
points below other health insurance products, although it is too early to
evaluate the long-term impact of the high-deductible plans. A full copy