U.S. not Alone in Facing Rising Health Plan Costs

March 26, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Canadian private health care plans continue to face double-digit cost increases in 2008, according to a nationwide survey of insurers and Blue Cross agencies released by Buck Consultants.

A press release on the findings from the Buck 2008 “Canadian Health Care Trend Survey” shows that while the overall trend has dipped slightly from 2007, cost increases expected this year for combined prescription drugs, medical plans, and hospital coverage are still in the 13% to 14% range. For dental care, increased utilization combined with provincially-set fee guides mean cost increases are in the 7% to 11% range, depending on the plan members’ province of residence, the release said.

The survey found the overall health care trend (including prescription drugs, medical plans, hospital coverage, and dental care) decreased slightly to 13.76% for 2008 from 13.94% in 2007.

“Our survey results show overall health care cost increases continue to outpace other business cost increases as well as the Consumer Price Index,” said Michele Bossi, Practice Leader in Buck’s Health and Welfare consulting practice, in the release. “We expect health plan costs to increase at double-digit rates for the next five to ten years, due to increased demand for medical therapies and the aging of the population.”

Bossi said Canadian employers can start controlling these costs long-term through wellness strategies, and in the short-term through plan design changes.

The 2008 survey, the firm’s eighth annual study, analyzed responses from 10 major Canadian group insurers that together represent 84% of the group health providers’ market in Canada.

The complete survey report is available at www.acsbuckcanada.com by clicking on Publications then Surveys.