A large benefits consulting firm says it sees signs that double-digit increases in health care benefits costs are continuing.

Researchers at the firm, Buck Consultants, New York, a unit of Affiliated Computer Services Inc., Dallas, asked 79 insurers and benefits administrators about medical price trends.

The survey participants, whose companies provide coverage for about 99 million U.S. residents, expect the rate of increase for preferred provider organization plans to rise to 11.1% in 2009, from 10.7% this year, and they expect the rate of increase for plans that incorporate health savings accounts or other personal health accounts to fall to 10.7%, from 11.4%.