Costs for all types of medical plans are expected to increase by 9.9 percent for 2012, according to the 24th National Health Care Trend Survey, conducted by Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company (NYSE: XRX). This is the first time since 2001 that Buck’s survey has projected cost increases less than 10 percent for any type of plan. The firm has been conducting its survey since 1999.
In a national survey of 129 insurers and administrators, Buck measured the projected average annual increase in employer-provided health care benefit costs. Insurers and administrators providing medical trends for the survey cover a total of approximately 109 million people.
In Buck’s 23rd National Health Care Trend Survey, preferred provider organization costs had been estimated to increase by 11.1 percent, point-of-service costs by 11.0 percent, health maintenance organization costs by 11.0 percent and high-deductible health plan costs by 11.1 percent.
“The reduced trend factors reported in our survey reflect that health insurers, who may have previously added margins to account for health care reform benefit changes mandated for 2011, have now removed those margins for 2012 projections,” said Daniel Levin, FSA, a Buck principal and consulting actuary who directed the survey. “The reduction also reflects lower expected costs as a result of the economic slowdown. Employees are trying to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses and are postponing elective medical services.”
“Also, the trends are not varying by plan type as they have in previous surveys,” added Levin. “This may indicate that insurers do not currently see network type as a significant reason for modifying trend factors.”
See also: State-Based Exchange Status Map