Health spending for US workers with job-sponsored insurance hit all-time high in 2017, report shows

Americans used about the same amount of most healthcare services in 2017 compared to 2016, but rising prices caused average annual spending for people with employer-sponsored insurance to grow to an all-time high of $5,641, according to a recent Health Care Cost Institute report.

The 2017 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report examined the institute's database of commercial claims of more than 40 million Americans under 65 covered by employer-sponsored health plans to analyze medical and prescription drug spending, utilization and average prices from 2013 to 2017.

Six key findings from the report: 

Healthcare spending

1. Total healthcare spending reached an all-time high in 2017. Spending per person — which includes payments for medical and pharmacy claims without manufacturer rebates — rose to $5,641 in 2017. That compares to $5,416 in 2016, $5,162 in 2015, $4,974 in 2014 and $4,834 in 2013.

2. In 2017, total per-person healthcare spending grew 4.2 percent compared to the year prior. That's a decrease from the 4.9 percent growth from 2015 to 2016.

3. The growth in total per-person spending is driven by price increases. Total average prices increased 3.6 percent in 2017. That's similar to growth the year prior and slower than annual growth between 2013 and 2015. Outpatient and professional services prices increased the most in 2017, at 5.7 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

4. Out-of-pocket spending per person — which includes payments made by patients for healthcare services and prescription drugs covered by health plans — increased 2.6 percent in 2017.

Healthcare use

5. Overall use of healthcare services did not change much over the five years studied, only decreasing 0.2 percent. Healthcare utilization climbed 0.5 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.

6. Utilization of inpatient services fell 5 percent during the 2013 to 2017 period, while prescription drug use grew by 3.1 percent. Utilization of inpatient and outpatient services fell 0.6 percent in 2017 while prescription drug use grew by 3.3 percent and use of professional services grew by 0.6 percent.


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