Health Care Costs Slow for Employers, Thomson Reuters Analysis Finds
Per capita health care spending for U.S. residents enrolled in employer-sponsored insurance plans decreased to an annualized rate of 3.8% in the first three months of 2011, compared with 6.3% in the first quarter of 2010, according to the Thomson Reuters Healthcare Spending Index for Private Insurance, Healthcare Finance News reports.
Hospital costs showed the largest increase, growing by 5.9% annually, the report found. In addition, physician costs are rising by 3.2% annually, while prescription medication costs rose by just 0.3%.
Annual cost increases for prescription drugs have kept inflation levels low since 2007. If prescription drug cost increases remain low, it would help the overall health care inflation rate stay well below the consistent 6% to 8% increases over the previous three years.
The decreasing rate of health care inflation could mean health care cost increases this year would be about equal to the overall rate of inflation, which is projected to be 3.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Anderson, Healthcare Finance News, 7/25).