Employers that let employers enroll in health plans and handle plan administrative tasks through the Web may cut coverage cost increases sharply, according to Humana Inc.[@@]

When the Humana, Louisville, Ky., managed care company studied 155 of its own group health plans of all sizes over a 3-year period, it found that increases were 11% lower for employers that opted for automation than for employers that failed to take full advantage of automation systems.

Use of the Web-based tools held down coverage costs by cutting administrative and marketing costs, Humana says.

Humana found that all of the educational and technology tools available through the its SmartSuite plans combined to cut plan cost increases to about 5% to 6% per year, from an average of about 12% to 14% for all plans.