Healthcare spending continues to rise as use of services falls: 6 things to know

Spending on healthcare for the privately insured in the U.S. increased 3.4 percent in 2014, continuing a rate of steady growth over the past five years, according to a recent report by the Health Care Cost Institute.

The HCCI report analyzes the healthcare spending trends for Americans younger than age 65 and covered by employer-sponsored insurance for the years 2010 through 2014.

Here are six findings from the HCCI report.

1. Healthcare spending averaged $4,967 per person in 2014, up 3.4 percent from the year prior.

2. Out-of-pocket healthcare spending averaged $810 per person in 2014, an increase of 2.2 percent over 2013.

3. Every year between 2010 and 2014, women spent more out-of-pocket than men. Increasing every year, the difference reached $237 in 2014.

4. While prices for all categories of services continued to rise last year, use of healthcare services fell in 2014. The largest decline in use was for acute admissions, while the smallest decline in use was for outpatient visits.

5. Spending on brand prescriptions jumped by $45 per capita in 2014 — an increase four times larger than in 2013 — despite a nearly 16 percent decrease in use of these prescriptions.

6. Much of the increase in spending on brand prescriptions was due to the use of high-priced hepatitis C drugs, such as Olysio, Sovaldi and Harvoni, which became available starting in late 2013.

"It's striking to see the impact high-priced drugs can have on healthcare spending, particularly in the case of three hepatitis C drugs, where use is relatively low," said Amanda Frost, a senior researcher at HCCI. "With more high-priced drugs set to enter the market, higher spending on brand prescriptions is a potential trend to watch."

More articles on healthcare finance:

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1,800 hospitals see payment bump under value-based purchasing: 10 things to know
11 recent hospital bankruptcies and closures

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