Attacks May Cause ‘Further Pressure’ on Health Care Costs
The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the subsequent anthrax attacks, are putting "further pressure" on health care costs that were already expected to rise 12% to 15% next year, the Wall Street Journal reports. Costs will rise by an extra 2.5% to 8% in New York, the District of Columbia and Florida -- all hit by anthrax attacks -- and 1% to 3% nationally, according to estimates from Daryl Veach, national director of health actuarial services for Ernst & Young LLP. Helen Darling, president of the Washington Business Group on Health, added that "significant increase[s]" in mental health and prescription drug costs are "a certainty." According to Edward Kaplan, vice president of Segal Co., if 5% of a company's employees filled prescriptions for the anthrax treatment Cipro, it could raise the employer's prescription drug costs by 3% on top of the approximately 15% drug cost rise employers were expected to see next year. The Journal reports that the expected increases will come "not only" from persons directly affected by the attacks, but also from consumers who are more likely to seek medical attention for a "rash or a simple cold ... just in case." While the increases are not based on "comprehensive medical claims," which can take months to process, Veach said, "[W]e have pretty significant anecdotal data" to support the estimates. For example, Kaplan noted that one of his clients has seen a 10% to 12% increase in antianxiety drug prescriptions since the attacks (Martinez, Wall Street Journal, 10/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.