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Aon: Health Account Plan Costs to Rise Faster

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Preferred provider organization (PPO) plan cost trends are about what they were a year ago, but cost trends for plans that incorporate individual health accounts seem to be somewhat higher.

Aon Consulting, a unit of Aon Corp., Chicago (NYSE:AON), has published health care cost trend figures for the next 12 months in a summary of results from a survey of about 60 large health carriers.

Health care cost trend increases for plans that offer prescription benefits could be 10.5% for health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, 10.7% for PPO plans, and 11% for health account plans, Aon says.

A year ago, the health care cost trend estimates were 10.6% for HMO plans, 10.7% for PPO plans, and 10.5% for health account plans.

The prescription drug cost trend could fall to 8.4%, from 9.3%, but the specialty pharmacy trend rate may increase to 14%, from 13.2%, Aon says.

The Affordable Care Act, the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), probably will add 2 percentage points to 5 percentage points to the medical cost trend over the next 3 years, Aon says.

The government is trying to cut Medicare reimbursement rates. Costs could rise more quickly than expected if doctors affected by the cuts try to shift costs to employer plan enrollees, Aon says.