Insurance Card (Photo: Shutterstock)

Although health care costs continue to increase, the rate of increase has generally slowed across multiple categories — including medical and prescription drugs. That’s one big takeaway from the 43rd National Healthcare Trend Survey sponsored by Buck, an integrated human resources, pensions, and employee benefits consulting, technology, and administration services firm. The survey of nearly 100 health insurers and health plan administrators covering more than 100 million plan participants identifies trend factors used by health insurers and third-party administrators to project employers’ future health care costs.

Health insurers use trend factors to calculate premium rates, and large self-funded employers use trend factors to budget their future health care costs. In general, trend factors provide for price increases that may result from such variables as inflation, utilization of services, technology, and changes in the mix of services. (It’s worth noting that the impact of the recent increase in prices is not yet reflected in the health care trend factors used by insurers to set premium rates.)

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