Health Care Insurance Rate Increases Slightly Lower, Patient Portions Higher

Chicago-based Hewitt Associates, a human resources consultant firm, says that the average health care insurance cost increases are lesser this year, following a downward trend.  San Diego, CA, was one city which was profiled, and though their costs are slightly lower than other places in the nation, the average increase there will be 7 percent in 2009, which is a reduction from the 8.9 percent increase in 2008, and the 11.5 percent increase in 2007.  These figures came from analysis of 1800 health plans all across the nation, which included 300 major employers, and over 13,000,000 health plan participants.
The increases began began after 9/11, and were first seen in 2001.  Since then, employers have taken many steps to reduce costs, including reducing coverages so that employees pay a higher portion of the bill.  When held responsible a greater portion of an office visit, it seems that people are less likely to go in for routine exams and minor complaints.
On average, health care insurance will cost local businesses 7 percent more in 2009, down from increases of 8.9 percent in 2008 and 11.5 percent in 2007, according to estimates by Chicago-based human resources consultant Hewitt Associates. Hewitt polled 1,800 health plans nationwide, including 300 major employers and more than 13 million health plan participants.  Yet this is a decrease in costs, compared with the spikes seen immediately after 9/11.  in 2003, San Diego’s health care costs went through the roof, causing an increase of 17.8 percent in that one year.  Lee Reichenbach, a principle at Hewitt Associates, suggests that this is fallout from 9/11, but a direct correlation more than a year later seems unlikely.
When faced with rising costs and a tough economy, it would seem that most companies look to have their employees shoulder more of the cost.  Employer costs average over $7500 per year per employee, so increases of 7 percent remain significant.
While shifting costs to employees may decrease frivilous visits, they also push the employee to expect and demand more from health care providers.  In a weakening economy, when those expectations are not met, it is possible that malpractice claims could rise as well, and the cost of professional malpractice insurance along with it.

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