Health plan premium increases slow

According to research by an independent organization, health plans expect to raise premiums 8.2 percent for 2007, down 0.2 percent from 2006. However, when other factors are considered, this should still lead to an 18.2 increase in employee contributions for next year, according to Sherlock Company projections (This should be painful for employees, given that premiums are rising at rates double that of wage growth). The "East South Central" region--including Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee--saw the highest increases in premiums and medical costs researchers found. The study drew on data from 72 health plans representing 20.6 percent of the 350 non-Medicaid independent system and Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans, according to the research firm. Results include all health plan types.

To get more detail on the study:
- read Sherlock Company's release