Health Care Expenses Will Rise Dramatically in 2003

Consulting firm Hewitt Associates has released survey results showing an anticipated 20 percent increase in health care costs for 2003. Increases may be even greater for small businesses. Overall, health care premiums rose 15.6 percent in 2002.

As businesses begin the negotiation process for next year’s health plans, health care providers are citing the high price of prescription drugs, the cost of new medical technologies, and the need for new computers and software programs to comply with new federal medical privacy regulations as reasons for the increase. In addition, an anticipated increase in health maintenance organization (HMO) costs for 2003 is attributed to a mass exodus of healthy people from the plans, leaving an HMO population of sicker and more costly patients. Survey information regarding HMO rates indicates that the average increase in the cost of an HMO plan will be 22 percent in 2003, but some plans will show an increase of as much as 94 percent.

"We are seeing unprecedented HMO increases for 2003. With no clear solutions on the horizon we expect that it's going to get worse before it gets better," according to Mindy Kairey, e-business leader for Hewitt's Health Management Practice. "Companies cannot afford these increases and will have to be even more aggressive in making plan design and employee contribution changes for next year. Unfortunately, this means consumers should expect to pay a lot more for health care."

Plan changes are already showing up in 2002 health plans. Increases in co-pay arrangements show many companies moving employees to higher co-pay rates. Forty percent of company plans are requiring a $10 co-pay for generic drugs as compared with 27 percent in 2001, and 26 percent are requiring a $20 co-pay for name brand drugs as compared with 12 percent in 2001. Previously, the most common co-pay arrangements provided for a $5 co-pay for generic drugs and a $10 co-pay for name brand drugs. In addition, 25 percent of companies now require a $15 co-pay for office visits to doctors as compared with 13 percent in 2001.

The Hewitt survey is based on information from nearly 140 employers representing a total of over 1 million employees.

For more information on combatting rising health care prices, see Five Steps to Reduce Company Health Insurance Costs.

You may like these other stories...

By Jason Bramwell, Staff WriterA recent survey of nearly 100 US financial executives by Deloitte LLP found that 42 percent of respondents pointed to the Affordable Care Act as the reason they had to pass further health care...
By Ken Berry Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) used for health care expenses just became slightly more flexible. On October 31, the IRS announced that employers can modify the "use-it-or-lose it" rule...
Dementia has become the number one cause of disability globally, according to the World Health Organization. Stroke, which can also profoundly impair judgment and decision making, stands at number two. "This year,...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.
Sep 30
This webcast will include discussions of important issues in SSARS No. 19 and the current status of proposed changes by the Accounting and Review Services Committee in these statements.
Oct 21
Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience's communication style.
Oct 23
Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.