NU Online News Service, Dec. 18, 10:25 a.m. – Average health care costs for members of preferred provider organization plans could increase 15% in 2003, up from 14.8% in 2002, according to results of a survey of about 100 health carriers and plan administrators conducted by Buck Consultants, New York.

Researchers at Buck, a unit of Mellon Financial Corp., Pittsburgh, found that the companies surveyed expect average health care costs to increase 13.8 percent for members of health maintenance organization plans. The projected HMO cost increase is the same as the increase that carriers and administrators were expecting for 2002.