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Premiums Rise, Medical Costs Lag, Says New Survey

Health plan premiums are headed up more steeply in the Southeast than in other areas next year, but the region will experience the slowest growth in per-capita medical costs.

Pennsylvania-based Sherlock Corp., a managed care research and consulting company, reports that nationwide, employers expect premiums to rise significantly — 8.3 percent. Southeastern employers say their premiums are rising, on average, 9.6 percent, while at the low end, purchasers in the Mid-Atlantic region anticipate an average 7.3-percent hike.

Simultaneously, Sherlock foresees a 2.4 percentage-point decrease in medical-loss ratios — translating into a 5.3-percent increase in medical care costs for managed care organizations. Medical-loss ratios will show the most improvement in the Southeast — 5.9 percentage points — while a 1-point rise is predicted in some plains states.

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