- Spending on healthcare for the privately insured in the U.S. went up 4.6% in 2015, according to a new report from Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI).
- The increase outpaces previous years, where such spending grew 3% in 2013 and 2.6% in 2014.
- Notably, the average price of an ER visit increased 10.5% last year ($1,863) while the average acute hospital admission increased by an average of $1,000 each year of the study, landing at $19,967 in 2015.
Price increases were the main reason spending grew faster in 2015 than in previous years, HCCI noted. More utilization of outpatient care and professional services such as lab tests also contributed to the spending growth for the privately insured.
HCCI notes ER visits and common medical hospital admissions declined in 2015, a pattern it noted in previous years. In addition, primary care office visits declined as specialist visits increased over the study period. The pattern of declining ER visits and primary care visits could be related to to the emergence of low-acuity care centers and retail clinics (though a recent study did find retail clinics are doing little to reduce non-emergency visits to emergency departments).
The study examined claims data from Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare.
Spending on prescription drugs grew faster than any other healthcare service in 2015, the study found. "In 2015, $649 per capita was spent on brand prescriptions, an increase of 11.4% from the previous year, with more dollars going to brand hormones and synthetic substitutes (such as insulin and contraceptives) and to anti-infective drugs (such as those used to treat Hepatitis C and HIV)," the study found, adding spending on generic prescriptions reached $313 per person, a 3.3% increase from last year.