A new study by Hewitt Associates found average health care costs increased 6 percent in 2008, up from 5.3 percent in 2007.

Major companies can expect the average health cost per employee to increase from $8,331 to $8,863 next year, with employees making up approximately 22 percent of the overall premium. Average out-of-pocket costs for employees are also expected to increase, from $1,707 in 2008 to $1,880 in 2009. The study projects employees' health care costs in 2009 will total $3,826, up 8.9 percent from $3,513 in 2008.

Traditional indemnity plans saw the greatest increase at 10.1 percent. HMOs increased by 8 percent, and PPOs increased by 4.8 percent. Average costs for POS plans increased by 3.9 percent.

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