Companies Expect Slower Growth In Insurance Costs Next Year.

The AP (9/22) reports, “Many workers will see their health insurance costs rise less next year than in more than a decade, partly because consumers are dialing back their health care use,” according to a study by Mercer which found that health insurance costs “will rise an average of 5.4 percent in 2012” described as “the smallest increase since 1997.” The increased cost is lower that the 7 percent expected by firms “if they made no changes to the plans they offer,” because companies plan “such measures as raising deductibles or co-payments and switching insurers.”

The Los Angeles Times (9/22, Helfand) also citing the Mercer report, points out that despite the slower growth, “the cost of benefits for workers is likely to outpace the growth of their earnings.” The Mercer study is based on “preliminary results from a survey of nearly 1,600 employers.”

The Hill (9/22, Pecquet) reports in its “Healthwatch” blog, “The findings are good news for workers,” though “the projected 5.4 percent increase remains ‘well above’ both inflation and salary growth.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan Announces Lower Increase. The Detroit News (9/22) reports, “Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan said Wednesday it is planning its average lowest rate increase [4.3%] for Michigan’s small employers in the past six years.” The firm said that “the lower increase is the result of…efforts to create more cost-effective product, promote wellness and team up with doctors and hospitals to improve health care quality.” The AP (9/22) reports, “The rates apply to what the company calls small group customers.”

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