Out-of-Pocket Costs Up

Although health care spending grew at a slightly lower rate in 2012, consumers are spending more out-of-pocket, according to new data.

Health care spending grew at a slightly lower rate in 2012, but consumers are spending more out-of-pocket, according to a new report.

According to the Health Care Cost Institute’s (HCCI) 2012 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report, health care spending per person with employer-sponsored coverage was up $181 dollars over the previous year. Out-of-pocket spending was up 4.8% to $768 per person.

Looking at private insurance claims data from 2009 to 2012, HCCI reported that spending grew the fastest for young adults, women and those living in the Northeast. Spending on outpatient services grew fastest in 2012 and prices for outpatient services were up 5.6%.

“Although average health care expenditures grew at nearly the same rate in 2012 as 2011, the causes of the 4% increase in spending each year were quite different,” HCCI Executive Director David Newman said in a statement. “In prior years, rising health care prices drove up spending. In 2012, we saw utilization start to change health care trends for prescription drugs and professional procedures. Preliminary evidence suggests this may be indicative of a larger shift in care as people search for lower cost care alternatives.”

According to HCCI’s report, prices for generic prescriptions drugs increased 5.3% in 2012 and use of generic drugs rose by nearly 8% over the previous year. Meanwhile, brand name prescription use declined 20.7%.

By gender, the data shows that health care expenditures for women were rising. Per capita spending was $5,246 for women compared to $4,125 for men. And the gap is widening.

Lastly, there were clear regional spending gaps. The per capita spending of $4,382 in the Northeast was the highest while spending was lowest in the West ($4,382). However, consumers in the Midwest and the South spent the highest amounts of their own money with the costs at $801 per person in the Midwest and $834 in the South.