Healthcare spending closes in on $6K per privately insured person

In the five-year period ending in 2018, healthcare spending on individuals insured through employer-sponsored plans grew 18.4%. About 75% of the hike traced to rising prices, which helped push spending on this segment of the covered population to an all-time high in 2018: $5,892 per person.

The findings are from the Health Care Cost Institute, which published a report on its analysis Feb. 13.

HCCI analyzed more than 2.5 billion de-identified claims, including those for prescription drugs as well as medical visits, filed from 2014 to 2018 with Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare.

HCCI notes the five-year per-person spending increase—which reflects an annual average rise of 4.3%—is consistent with CMS data.

“That rise outpaced growth in per-capita GDP, which increased at an average rate of 3.4% over the same period,” writes HCCI president and CEO Niall Brennan in introducing the findings. “Notably, however, per-capita GDP grew slightly faster than health care spending per person from 2017 to 2018.”

Other key findings in the analysis include:

  • Patients’ out-of-pocket spending increased to an average of $907 per person in 2018. That’s up from $874 the previous year and $793 in 2014.
  • The largest category of spending was professional services ($1,985), followed by facility payments for outpatient visits and procedures ($1,662), facility payments for inpatient admissions ($1,128) and prescription drugs ($1,118).
  • Healthcare spending grew 4.4% in 2018. This was up from 4.2% in 2017, and it was the third year in a row spending for these patients grew faster than 4%.
  • After adjusting for inflation, prices accounted for three-quarters of spending growth between 2014 and 2018, contributing $453 to spending per person over the five-year period.
  • Average prices grew 2.6% in 2018. That’s the lowest rate of growth over the period; however, “consistent year-over-year increases mean that prices were 15.0% higher in 2018 than 2014,” HCCI points out.

Utilization grew 1.8% from 2017 to 2018, “the fastest pace observed during the five-year period,” the report authors note. “And because of the higher price levels, the effect of the increase in utilization in 2018 on total spending was higher than it would have been in 2014.”

To read the full analysis, click here.