Health insurance premiums have been skyrocketing a little more slowly lately, and that may have eased pressure on workers’ efforts to prepare for retirement.
The medical costs underlying U.S. health coverage rates appear to be set to go up about 12% for conventional preferred provider organization plans in 2007 and about 11% for plans that incorporate personal health accounts, according to researchers in the Washington office of PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P.
But employers used changes in plan design and other techniques to hold the actual increase in 2006 health insurance rates to 7.7%.
The 2006 increase was down from 9.2% in 2005, and it’s the smallest increase since 2000 the PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers have recorded.
“The 7.7% average increase in health insurance premiums in 2006 was twice the rate of overall inflation and wage gains,” the researchers warn.