Prescription Drug Program Cost Increases are Slowing

February 23, 2006 ( - While the projected increase in employer-provided health care benefit costs for 2006 is expected to remain about the same, the increases for prescription drug programs are slowing, according to a Buck Consultants survey.

According to a news release, the survey found that trends from Buck’s survey in the prior year were up .3% for Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, down .3% for Point of Service (POS) plans, up .5% for Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, and down .2% for High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs).

However, prescription drug trends were down 1.8% for Pharmacy Benefit Manager programs, .9% for Insurers’ programs, and 1.7% for combined programs.

Michael Jacobs, Buck Consultants’ National Pharmacy Practice Leader, said in the release, “Drug trends, which have traditionally been higher than medical trends, are now almost the same.”

Harvey Sobel, FSA, a Buck Principal and Consulting Actuary, said, “Some insurers cite reduced utilization and improved provider contracting as the main reason for declines in their trends.”

Buck’s 15th “National Health Care Trend Survey” is available for $100 from Buck’s Survey Department by calling (201) 553-6400.