Americans are shouldering more and more of their healthcare costs

Tom Wirbel - Employee Benefits Broker OhioThe American Medical Association recently published findings regarding patient spending on healthcare between 2009 and 2013.  It has been widely acknowledged that healthcare costs have increased and most studies have been focused on aggregate spending and the increase in costs facing employers who sponsor group healthcare plans.  Other studies have focused on the premium increases.  The focus on PATIENT SPENDING makes this study different from most.

From my perspective, the biggest take away from the study is that PATIENT SPENDING increased at a rate more than double that of overall healthcare spending.  From 2009-2013, overall healthcare spending grew at 2.9% per year while PATIENT SPENDING grew at a rate of 6.9% per year.  This is concrete evidence of the continual “downgrade” in plan design that patients seem to encounter every year.  Patients routinely see higher copayments, higher deductibles, higher out of pocket maximums and a migration of certain claims that have been subject to lower cost flat-dollar copays now covered subject to the deductible – all resulting in more expense for patients when they seek care.

The group of researchers, some of whom have an affiliation with the University of Michigan, studied a vast population of 50 million insured patients.  The researchers focused on the patients’ expense for 7.3 million hospitalization encounters.  The average out of pocket expense for the patient grew by 35.5% from 2009 to 2013.

Most employers thirst for information regarding THEIR healthcare plan relative to benchmark norms – things like total cost, cost per employee, and plan design variables.

For information as to how your plan compares, please contact your CPI-HR Benefits Consultant, or call 440-542-7800.


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