Employer healthcare costs expected to rise by double digits again, study says

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Employer healthcare costs will soar to more than double the rate of annual inflation over the next year, according to study results released Tuesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A rise of 9.9% is expected for 2008 and 9.6% for 2009, according to the analysis. Price interviewed more than 500 employers, which provide coverage for more than 11 million people.

The increase can largely be attributed to higher expenses for insured individuals to help cover the costs of the rising number of uninsured, along with new hospital and other facility building and renovations.

"Healthcare providers, insurers and employers will have to monitor medical costs carefully if we are to avoid a resurgence of the double-digit annual increases seen in the past," said David Chin, leader of the Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers.