Business update: Cost of health insurance claims to rise

TUESDAY, SEPT. 14, 2010, 10:28 A.M.

The costs that dictate employer-provided health insurance plans will climb more than 10 percent within the next 12 months, and financially pressured companies may pass more of this increase along to their workers through next year’s benefits plans, according to an Aon Consulting report. Many factors contribute to the rising cost of providing insurance, including expensive medical treatment, health issues related to obesity and an aging population, the number of unemployed taking advantage of short-term benefits and the effect of the new health care law. A survey of about 60 health organizations found that insurers expect to pay out 10.7 percent more in claims for preferred provider organization managed care.

Senate fails to cut tax provision in health law: The Senate failed today to repeal or ease an arcane tax reporting provision of the new health care law, leaving millions of businesses in the lurch for now. It was an inconclusive ending to an early skirmish over repealing part of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. But it signaled battles to come if Republicans gain control of Congress in the midterm elections this fall.

Small business credit measure clears Senate hurdle: In a win for President Barack Obama and his political allies, Senate Democrats today won a crucial vote to clear the way for a bill to create a $30 billion government fund to help open up lending for credit-starved small businesses. Democrats cracked a GOP filibuster of the bill with the help of two Republicans: Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and George LeMieux of Florida. The 61-37 tally sets the stage for a final vote later this week to return the measure to the House, which is likely to approve it for Obama’s signature.

August retail sales up 0.4 percent, best in 5 months: Retail sales rose in August by the largest amount in five months, adding to evidence that a late spring economic swoon was temporary and not the start of another recession. Retail sales increased 0.4 percent last month, the Commerce Department said today. It was the second straight monthly increase and the biggest gain since March.

Stocks edge higher on upbeat retail sales report: Stocks edged higher today after new reports on retail sales and business inventories restored some optimism about the U.S. economy. The gains were kept in check because of fresh concerns about Europe. In other signs that investors remain cautious, gold climbed to another record and Treasury prices rose, sending interest rates lower.

Chase’s online banking service is down; ATMs fine: Chase’s online banking service is down because of a technical problem and the bank says it’s working to resolve it. The service has been down since Monday night, but bank spokesman Thomas Kelly couldn’t specify the exact time service was disrupted. Chase has 16.5 million customers who bank online. ATMs at Chase, the nation’s second-largest bank, were not affected. The bank’s telephone banking service was also operating normally.


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