Report: High Prices at Hospitals, Others Drove High Healthcare Costs During Recession

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From 2009 to 2010, per capita healthcare spending for commercially-insured people younger than 65 rose from $4,120 to $4,255, and that increase was primarily driven by higher prices charged by hospitals and other providers instead of increased utilization, according to the Health Care Cost Institute's 2010 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report (pdf).

HCCI compiled data from 3 billion health insurance claims for more than 33 million people who were covered under employer-sponsored, private insurance from 2007 to 2010. The study's authors found that hospitals, outpatient centers and other healthcare facilities charged higher prices during this recession era, which led to higher per capita healthcare costs, to compensate for the lower healthcare utilization trends.

Here are some of HCCI's other main findings:

•    The average price for an inpatient hospital admission was $14,662 in 2010, a 5.1 percent increase from 2009.

•    The average price for an inpatient surgical admission was $27,100 in 2010, a 6.4 percent increase from 2009.

•    The average price for an emergency room visit was $1,327 in 2010, an 11 percent increase from 2009.

•    Payments and prices for outpatient and professional procedures grew more slowly from 2009 to 2010. The average overall price for all outpatient procedures increased 1.7 percent between those two years.

•    While the average prices of all prescription drugs increased by a moderate 3 percent from 2009 to 2010, there was a noticeable difference between pricing of brand-name and generic drugs. Brand-name drug prices increased 13 percent, while generic drug prices decreased 6.3 percent.

"We find continued growth in per capita and estimated aggregate healthcare spending in this population," the authors said of the under-65, privately-insured crowd. "Unlike other recent reports on healthcare spending, we find that the increased spending is mostly due to unit price increases rather than changes in the quantity or intensity of services."

More Articles on Hospital Prices:

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North Carolina Governor Wants More Transparent Hospital Pricing

U.S. Outspends 12 Industrialized Nations on Healthcare, But Quality Lags

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