Double-digit growth in health-care rates expected for 2005 - Early results of a survey of health insurance providers show that rates will increase by double digits again in 2005, though at a lower rate than last year.

Puget Sound Business Journal


Washington State - The annual survey by Seattle actuarial firm Milliman USA predicts that HMOs will raise rates 11 percent in 2005, compared to 14.8 percent in 2004 and 17.6 percent in 2003. Yet if implemented, the 11 percent increase next year would mark the sixth consecutive year of double-digit increases, Milliman said.

The survey predicts that preferred provider organizations will raise rates 12 percent. This is the first year the 13-year-old survey has included data from PPOs, Milliman said.

The survey was sent to the nation's HMOs and fully insured PPOs that serve the commercial large group employer market. The preliminary results are based on responses from 30 percent of them, and will be finalized in October.

"There are many contributing factors to the rise in health-care costs," notes Steve Cigich, co-author of Milliman's annual survey. "Possible contributing factors include an aging population, rising rates of conditions like obesity, diabetes and asthma, high medical malpractice litigation cost, health-care work-force shortages and changing consumer attitudes and demands toward health care."

© 2004 American City Business Journals Inc.



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