Initial estimates show 2010 health maintenance organization premiums will increase by around 11.8%, according to a human resources consulting firm.
The result is consistent with last year’s projected rate increases and down from 13.2% percent in 2008, reports Hewitt Associates Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill. Final average HMO rates for 2009 increased by 9% after plan changes, negotiations and terminations.
While HMO rates continue to outrun inflation and general health care trends, employers have been able to cut these costs by 3% to 4% over the past few years through plan design changes, cost shifting and bargaining aggressively with health plans, said Maureen Fay, a Hewitt principal.
“Given these challenging economic conditions, we expect to see employers continuing to implement similar–if not more aggressive–strategies for 2010,” Fay said.
Hewitt expects HMO rate increases for 2010 will see less variation from region to region than it found in its past surveys. Still, it projects the Southwest to see the highest rate increases at 14%, up almost 100% from 7.3% this year. The West is expected to have the lowest premium increases at 11%, down from 12% in 2009.