Health Costs Rising for Adults With Job-Based Coverage, Study Finds
Per capita health care spending among U.S. adults under age 65 with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by 4.6% in 2011, up from a 3.8% increase in 2010, according to a new study from the Health Care Cost Institute, Modern Healthcare reports (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 9/25).
The study was based on private health insurance claims data for nearly 156 million U.S. residents with commercial insurance. Given that health care spending growth in 2010 was markedly lower than the 5.8% increase in 2009, the 2011 figure was higher than anticipated, HCCI noted in a press release Tuesday.
Prices rose for all major categories of health care -- hospital stays, outpatient care, procedures and prescriptions. Prices rose the most for outpatient care and spending increased the fastest on children's health care, the study noted (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 9/24). Inpatient spending increased by 4.8% in 2011, up from a 3.6% increase in 2010, while outpatient spending increased by 6.8%, down from an 8% increase in 2010, according to the study.
The study noted that patients' out-of-pocket spending increased by 4.6% to $735, while the number of people with employer-sponsored plans fell by about 0.3%, to 156 million (Modern Healthcare, 9/25).
Comments on Study
Gail Wilensky, senior fellow at Project HOPE and former chair of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, said that although the new data show an increase in health spending, the growth is "rather slow."
She noted that private sector-based cost-control efforts were spreading before the Affordable Care Act and that the health reform law accelerates them. She said it is still unknown whether cost controls in the ACA will be effective and sustainable in the long-term (CQ HealthBeat, 9/24).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.