Healthcare Spending for the Privately Insured Rose 4.6 Percent in 2015

Growth in U.S. healthcare spending for the privately insured accelerated in 2015, due primarily to price increases, a report from the Health Care Cost Institute finds.

Based on 2012-15 claims data from four national insurance companies, the report, 2015 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report (34 pages, PDF), found that per capita healthcare spending for Americans under the age of 65 with employer-sponsored insurance in 2015 was $5,141, a year-over-year increase of 4.6 percent, and a jump from the 2.6 percent increase in 2014 and a 3 percent increase in 2013. The report also found that prices for outpatient, inpatient, and professional services as well as prescription drugs increased between 3.5 percent and 9.0 percent in 2015 and were the largest driver of spending growth over the four-year period, while the price of an emergency room visit rose 10.5 percent.

According to the report, a slight increase in the use of outpatient care and professional services contributed to the rise in overall spending, while ER visits and common medical and surgical hospital admissions declined. And while the use of generic prescription drugs increased, the use of brand prescriptions fell, resulting in an overall drop in the use of prescriptions. The report also found that out-of-pocket spending per capita on deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance increased 3 percent, to $813, with individuals over the age of 45 spending more than $1,000 and women of all ages spending $236 more than men.

"Spending grew faster than we might have expected in 2015, given the slower growth in previous years," said HCCI senior researcher Amanda Frost. "The combination of people using more healthcare services and the faster growth in prices pushed up spending, with prices playing the bigger role."

"Growing Prices Push Health Care Spending Up 4.6 Percent in 2015." Health Care Cost Institute Press Release 11/22/2016. "2015 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report." Health Care Cost Institute Report 11/22/2016.