Survey Says Health Care Costs May Increase Again

June 1, 2006 ( - A survey of leading health care insurers shows that health care costs are forecasted to increase by 12.2% for HMOs in the next year, 12.4% for PPOs and 11.9% for POS plans, almost a full point lower in each category than last year.

Aon Consulting polled more than 70 health care insurers representing more than 100 million insured individuals who estimate that consumer-driven health plans will increase by 12.5%, similar to last year’s 12.7% forecast.

Bill Sharon, senior vice president with Aon Consulting and the director of the study, said this is the sixth year that there are predicted double-digit increases in health care costs.

The surveyed insurers also predicted that health care rate increases for retirees will be lower than for active employees, and that the number of Medicare Supplement plans will climb by 11.5% and Medicare Advantage plans by 10.2% next year.

Aon’s study also predicts that general pharmacy costs will increase by 12.2%, down from 13.1% last year. Insurers forecasted the cost of specialty drugs – mostly drugs used to treat high-cost diseases which had previously invasive or unavailable treatments – to increase by 17%, down from a 22.5% increase in 2005.