NU Online News Service, Oct. 17, 4:10 p.m. – U.S. companies are expected to be hit again with double-digit health care cost hikes in 2003, which would be the highest increase since the early 1990s, according to projections from Hewitt Associates, an employee benefits consulting firm in Lincolnshire, Ill..
Hewitt forecasts a 15.4% average increase for 2003, up from this year’s hike of 13.7%.
Some companies will continue to absorb most of next year’s increase, but many are increasing employees’ share of health care premiums, the company finds. The average employee contribution for 2003 will be 19% for their own coverage and 24% for dependent coverage, Hewitt’s data shows.
“Unless there is a fundamental change in the way health care is delivered, costs will double in the next five years,” said Jack Bruner, national health care practice leader for Hewitt. “This is a major concern for senior management as it impacts the bottom line of companies across the country.”
On average, Hewitt forecasts that companies will receive 2003 cost increases of 15% for preferred provider organizations, point-of-service plans and traditional indemnity plans and 16% for health maintenance organization plans.