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Healthcare spending growth slows, could affect consumers

Posted On Mon, June 11, 2012

PricewaterhouseCoopers noted that healthcare spending in the United States has grown at low levels and will continue to do so through next year.

Inflation of medical costs has been much lower in the past three years than what was initially projected, as this has been between 7 percent and 7.5 percent from 2010 to 2013, the report explained. With next year's spending rate slated at 7.5 percent, this may suggest that spending and inflation are leveling out.

However, this could encourage employers to further control their medical expenses, and much of that may get put on employees, the report said. Close to 60 percent of employers have thought about making their employees pay more for their healthcare policies. In addition, 50 percent of employers said higher deductibles may be a better way to handle cost-cutting. Nearly the same amount said that raising employee prescription expenses may help. Another 72 percent of employers said they have wellness programs, while 50 percent of this group said they would be open to increasing the reach of these programs.

"Slower growth in healthcare costs could be the 'new normal,'" said Michael Thompson, principal, human resource services, PwC.  "We're seeing long-term trends that could keep cost increases in check. As employers shift expenses to their employees, for example, these workers are pursuing lower-cost alternatives. Even as the economy strengthens, changes in behavior by employers and consumers may help limit medical growth."

If a person doesn't want to incur the excessive charges from their employer, it could benefit them to look online for healthcare coverage options. By taking a person's current plan and weighing it against other health insurance quotes, a person could find a plan that better fits their needs.

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