Report Finds 2013 Health Care Spending Up, but Use of Services Down
Health care spending in 2013 by U.S. residents with employer-sponsored coverage grew slightly as prices increased and use of for medical and surgical services dropped, according to a report by the Health Care Cost Institute, Modern Healthcare reports.
According to the analysis, the slow growth in spending mirrors the annual average that has been recorded since 2010. For the report, researchers assessed about five billion claims submitted to private health plans.
Costs Increase, Utilization Declines
Among about 40 million individuals with employer-based coverage, health spending increased by 3.9% in 2013, compared with a 7.2% average annual growth rate recorded in recent decades. According to Modern Healthcare, spending primarily increased because of a rise in prices, rather than an increase in the use of services.
Specifically, the report found that the use of outpatient services declined by 0.5%, while outpatient prices increased by 5.8%. The survey found that, among outpatient services:
- The number of emergency department visits decreased by 1.6% in 2013;
- Outpatient surgeries declined by 0.7%; and
- Outpatient observation visits increased by 4.6%.
Similarly, the report found that the use of inpatient services decreased by 2.7%, while inpatient prices increased by 6.7%.
The report also found a 3.3% increase in spending on professional procedures, driven largely by an increase in prices.
Meanwhile, the report found a 21.2% increase in prescription drug prices, but a 0.5% drop in generic drug prices. According to the report, there was a 15.5% decline in brand-name drug use and a 4.5% increase in generic prescription drug use in 2013 (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 10/28).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.