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Health Price Trends at Large U.S. Employers Look Good: Mercer

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Health benefits cost U.S. employers a lot, but 2017 price trends were a lot gentler for typical U.S. employers than for employer health plan sponsors in much of the rest of the world.

Analysts Mercer, a unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies, look at 2017 medical cost trends.

U.S. employers held per-employee cost increases to 2.6% in 2017, according to the analysts.

Employers in the rest of the world averaged an increase of 9.5%.

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One of the reports, posted here, reviews health benefits trends in the United States. The other report, posted here,

The analysts based the U.S. results on a survey of employers, and the results for employers outside the United States on a survey of insurers.

Here are three things the analysts found.

1. Underlying costs are rising quickly in much of the world.

The average medical cost increase was 7.6% in Europe, 10.4% in Asia, 12.5% in the Middle East and Africa, and 12.7% in in Latin America.

2. The medical cost trend did not seem to have much to do with whether a market depends more on government-run health programs or more on a mix of public and private payers.

The Netherlands and Switzerland have health care systems that mix public health programs with private insurance. The underlying 2017 medical cost trend rate was 2.1% in  the Netherlands and 4.5% in Switzerland.

France, Canada and the United Kingdom are famous for their government-run health care systems. The 2017 medical trend was 1.6% in France, 6.2% in Canada and 4.6% in the United Kingdom.

3. Just two major market areas had medical trend increases over 25%.

The 2017 medical cost trend was 28.4% in Egypt, and 32.8% in Argentina, according to Mercer.

— Read 5 Rich Countries Where It’s Hard to See a Doctoron ThinkAdvisor.

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