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HMO rate increases to hit five year high, according to new analysis Posted: December 7th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Using information collected from 160 companies, consulting firm Aon Hewitt has calculated that HMO subscribers can expect to see the largest rate increases since 2006. The firm's analysis determined that the average increase in premiums in 2011 will be 9.8 percent. In 2006, rates went up an average of 10 percent.

The increases vary by region with the southeast portion of the country seeing the greatest increases and the western states experiencing the smallest jump in premiums. Increases by region were calculated as:

  • West: 9 percent
  • Midwest: 10.2 percent
  • Southwest: 10.5 percent
  • Northeast: 10.5 percent
  • Southeast: 12.5 percent

As rates increase, more employers are opting to discontinue managed care options for their workers. According to Aon Hewitt, only 47 percent of employers offered HMO coverage in 2010, compared to 58 percent in 2007.

In addition to rising health insurance premiums, other subscriber costs are expected to climb in coming years. Co-payments for primary care and specialists are on the rise. However, prescription drug co-pays are expected to remain roughly the same with $15 co-pays being most popular.

Aon Hewitt contributes part of the trend in higher HMO costs to the fact that many young and healthy individuals have switched to high deductible health plans. That leaves HMOs with individuals and families who may have chronic health conditions that require a greater level of coverage.