After six years of little change and a lot of subsequent speculation about higher rates to come, HMO premium increases appear to have taken root. For the second straight year, increases in 1999 were in the neighborhood of 8 percent, according to Milliman & Robertson's latest edition of its HMO Intercompany Rate Survey.
The average per-member, per-month rate jumped 8.2 percent, to $149.59. Last year, it rose 7.8 percent. The bulk of the increases were due to health plans' soaring pharmaceutical expenses: the number of prescriptions written per thousand members climbed 12 percent, from 7,046 to 7,899. Admissions and inpatient lengths of stay remained at last year's levels.