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.