Medical cost increases for employers throughout the world are expected to accelerate over the next five years, eclipsing the rate of inflation in most countries, according to a new poll. The findings are significant for employers as health care is fast becoming the most desired employee benefit worldwide, even in countries with state-sponsored medical programs.
The Watson Wyatt Worldwide poll of 85 companies that provide medical insurance to employers in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas found that nearly three-fourths expect higher or significantly higher medical cost trends over the next five years. Additionally, more than eight of 10 report that medical costs are eclipsing the general rate of inflation in their country.
Insurance companies in Asia and Africa are expecting double-digit increases in employer medical costs in most countries in 2008. The same is true in most countries in Latin America. In Europe, most insurers are projecting increases in the single digits, although respondents in all European countries said they expect higher trends over the next five years.