Nine percent again.

That’s the increase employers who offer health insurance coverage for employees can expect in 2010, according to the latest report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Nine percent. At first glance that figure should trigger shock and dismay – and then I realize it’s nothing new. The 9% increase predicted for next year is actually DOWN from the 9.2% that PWC predicted for this year, and is almost a whole percentage point down from the 9.9% predicted for 2008.

The report says costs will rise in part because workers worried about losing their jobs are using their health care more while they still have it. No surprise there, although at least now more people suffering layoffs are maintaining health insurance coverage since the government is subsidizing 65% of the cost of COBRA for nine months.

Still, with health insurance costs continuing to rise much faster than inflation, and those costs being passed on to employees who are not receiving pay increases (and in many cases have had their salaries reduced), there will continue to be a public uprising against the status quo. Public sentiment will snowball toward the “something needs to be done” camp, and support for a centralized health care system will continue to grow.

Yet another new poll, conducted by the University of Michigan and released on June 17, found that 46% of respondents are concerned that they would not be able to afford health care in the future, and 24% worry that they will lose their insurance coverage in the next year.