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Health care costs

Why U.S. Companies Are Broke: Health Care Costs Rising Another 9 Percent in 2010

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: health care costs, bankruptcy, health news


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(NaturalNews) Businesses in the United States are expected to spend 9 percent more on health care in 2010 than they did in 2009, according to an annual survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

According to previous surveys, the cost of health care increased by 9.9 percent between 2007 and 2008, then another 9.2 percent between 2008 and 2009.

The economic recession has contributed to the projected increase in health care costs in two ways. First, workers nervous about the possibility of being laid off have began using their health plans more heavily, out of fear of becoming uninsured. Unemployment has also affected health insurance costs by driving increasing numbers of people to public insurance programs such as Medicaid. This has built a significant blow to the profits of private insurers, who have responded by raising the rates that employers are expected to pay.

Employers, in turn, pass costs along to their employees. Forty-two percent of employers surveyed said that they planned to increase employees' premiums, while 41 percent said that they planned to share increasing costs with their workers by changing their coverage plans. Twenty percent said that they planned to implement high-deductible health plans within the next two years.

The survey found that the number of people in high-deductible plans has been increasing, leading directly to lower use of medical services because people can simply no longer afford them.

More than two-thirds of employers in the survey said that they offered wellness or disease-management programs intended to reduce health care costs, although they did not find them very effective at cost reduction. Forty percent of employees said they were enrolled in wellness programs, while 15 percent were enrolled in disease-management programs

Not all factors are pushing costs up, however. Even if no health care reform plan is implemented, the patents on five blockbuster drugs are said to expire in 2010, while even more are set to enter the public domain in the following two years.

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com.

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