Cost of health care climbs 6.3 per cent

Thomson Reuters index measures per capita health-care spending
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 12/07/2010

The cost of health care for people with employer-sponsored health insurance climbed about 6.3 per cent for the year ending June 30, according to a new Thomson Reuters index.

The Thomson Reuters Healthcare Spending Index for Private Insurance measures historical and current levels of per capita health-care spending for individuals whose coverage is provided by self-insured employers — a segment that represents about 25 per cent of health-care expenditures in the United States.

The index is the most timely indicator of health-care inflation available, according to Thomson Reuters. Preliminary estimates are released quarterly, about 90 days after the period in which the health-care services were used.

"The index is accurate and detailed because it's based on the health-care utilization of millions of Americans," said Gary Pickens, chief research officer at the Thomson Reuters Center for Healthcare Analytics. "That allows us to report on cost trends overall and for key components — hospitals, physicians, drugs and patients' out-of-pocket costs."

Spending for hospital care, for example, has increased faster than spending on physician services or prescription medicines in the past year. Hospital costs increased 8.2 per cent, physician costs increased 5.5 per cent and drug costs increased 3.4 per cent.

"The index helps employers and insurers benchmark their costs, health-care providers understand their revenue streams and policy makers monitor health-care inflation and its implications," said Pickens. "We also can conduct custom analyses that break down the data by type of health-care service, type of provider, geographic region, patient demographic subgroup and other specifications."

A copy of the latest index findings can be found at http://healthcarescience.thomsonreuters.com/Indexes/assets/EMP-9073_Spending_Index_Nov_Findings_1110_web.pdf.

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