Because doctor and hospital costs continue to rise at an even faster rate, the modest slowdown in insurance inflation mainly reflects cutbacks in coverage by many health plans, which have found ways to make employees pay more for their care. Industry experts said that without those measures, premium costs would have risen by 9 percent or more.Kaiser's report includes results from a survey of private and public employers.
The article is a good source of factoids, including:
- Health costs have increased 78 percent since 2001, more than four times the pace of prices and wages.
- The 2007 increase was the smallest annual rise since 1999, when health premiums jumped 5.3 percent.
- Insurance company profit margins have been running at 6 percent to 7 percent.
- 3.8 million workers are enrolled in HSAs. That's 5 percent.
- Almost one in five large employers currently offer some sort of health savings option.
- Only about half of the employers that offer HSAs contribute to their workers' plans.
I'd say Kaiser was right not to try to project. If the drumbeat for change keeps up, insurance companies will not raise rates much. Hell, they might even freeze the rate increases, eat some losses. Cost of doing business.