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Annual Health Care Cost Institute Report

By November 4, 2014Commentary

The Health Care Cost Institute collects data from a number of commercial health insurers and uses it to produce broad-based reports on health care cost and utilization trends.  The current report covers 2013.  (HCCI Report)   Overall spending for people covered by employer-sponsored insurance grew 3.9% on a per capita basis, to $4,864, similar to the prior two years.  This change was almost all driven by unit prices. By category, 20% of spending was for hospital inpatient, 28% for hospital outpatient, 34% for office visits, and 17% on drugs.  Outpatient services is the fastest growing category.

Office visits to specialists rose by 8%, while those to primary care doctors declined 3.8%.  Hospital inpatient and outpatient use both decreased.  Hospital inpatient prices rose 6.3%, with unit prices accounting for 4.5% of this and intensity the rest.  Outpatient hospital prices rose 5.8%, with unit price being 5.5% of this growth.   For branded prescription drugs the contrast was most dramatic, as utilization actually dropped 15% and prices increased 21.2%.  Generic drugs showed the opposite trend, use was up 4.5% and prices down a half a percent.

On a regional basis, the Northeast has the highest per capita spending, $5037, and the fastest growth rate, 4.8%; while the West has both the lowest spending, $4542 and rate of increase, 3%.  Spending for women is higher than for men, $5403 versus $4305, but men’s spending accelerated while women’s slowed.   Overall the report shows muted per capita spending growth for employment-related insurance, but the drops in utilization suggest that higher cost-sharing may be having an impact.  Meanwhile price growth in some categories is quite rapid.

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