Massachusetts insurers warn costs will rise up to 8%

Insurers operating in Massachusetts recently warned businesses that their costs will likely increase between 5 percent and 8 percent this year, reported the Boston Globe. Although the insurers' projections are higher than the states' own target to limit cost increases by 3.6 percent, the execs insisted that they could still meet the state's goal. That's because the cost trend and the Massachusetts medical spending cap are like "apples and oranges," Andreana Santangelo, senior vice president and chief actuary for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, said at a summit hosted by the New England Employee Benefits Council. Insurers' spending trends, which are calculated based on prices of provider visits, test, and procedures combined with medical utilization rates, influence overall spending calculations, but other factors are also important. Those factors include hospitals' capital improvements, healthcare workers' salaries and benefit design changes that affect employees' copayments and deductibles. What's more, per-capita medical spending in Massachusetts is the highest in the country, said Eric Swain, vice president of sales and account management for UnitedHealthcare of New England. Article

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