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Health expenses to rise 8.5 percent in 2012, study finds

| Thursday, May 19, 2011

Employers can expect to see an acceleration in health care cost increases in 2012, with expenses rising 8.5 percent next year, according to a study Wednesday from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The recession put a lid on health care costs, which should keep the inflation rate to 8 percent for 2011, but those price increases are getting steeper as the recovery gains momentum.

"Now, a few months into 2011, employers and health plans say utilization remains somewhat deflated, but they're already worried about a rebound in 2012," the study says. "Add to this recessionary effect the changes brought on by health reform, and the variables affecting cost trends in 2012 become an interesting blend of reactions."

PricewaterhouseCoopers surveyed 1,700 employers from 30 industries along with hospital executives and health-plan actuaries.

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