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Plans' pharmacy costs to rise as much this year as in 1999

The Segal Co., a New York-based consultant to employers, estimates an 18-percent increase in the cost of providing a pharmacy benefit this year. Prescription-drug claim expenses are expected to consume 15 percent of all costs of providing health benefits to active employees and retirees under age 65, and 40 percent of the cost for retirees 65 and older. Much of this is driven less by actual increases in drug prices than by greater consumer demand and health plans' increasing reliance on drug therapies.

SOURCE: SEGAL HEALTH PLAN COST TREND SURVEY, JANUARY 2000

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