Health benefit plan cost trend rates for 2015 are forecast to drop slightly for some coverage, but to increase substantially for prescription drug coverage, according to data compiled in the 2015 Segal Health Plan Cost Trend Survey, Segal's eighteenth annual survey of managed care organizations, health insurers, pharmacy benefit managers and third-party administrators.
Trend is the forecast of annual gross per capita claims cost increases that takes into account various factors, such as price inflation, utilization, government-mandated benefits, and new treatments, therapies and technology. Although there is usually a high correlation between a trend rate and the actual cost increase assessed by a carrier, trend and the net annual change in plan costs are not the same. Changes in the costs to plan sponsors can be significantly different from projected claims cost trends, reflecting such diverse factors as group demographics, changes in plan design, administrative fees, reinsurance premiums and changes in participant contributions.
Notable findings from the survey include the following:
The survey also examined 2015 projected medical trends by service type (hospitals, physicians and prescription drugs). Similar to prior-year projections, price inflation remains the largest component of cost increases.
The key findings from Segal’s 2015 Health Plan Cost Trend Survey are illustrated in an infographic that can be found here.