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Health care use trend may temper premium hikes
San Francisco Chronicle

Consumers may catch a little break when their health insurance policies renew. Lower-than-expected use of health care has helped push insurer earnings higher and that may temper how much they increase premiums.

Analysts and industry observers say people tend to hold off on elective surgeries or skip doctor visits after a deep recession, and that makes utilization grow more slowly. Insurers consider this trend when they determine what they will need to collect in premiums to cover future claims, and employers likely will use it as a bargaining chip when they negotiate prices of the plans that cover their workers.

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