Consumers share of health care costs to increase 7.4% next year

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The 2009 Milliman Medical Index predicts that the typical cost of health care for a US family of four will rise to $16,771 on average. Milliman estimates that the total cost of coverage for a average household of four, even if there are no claims, will consume 8% of income. Workers will pay 41% of the costs of care, making the third year of increasing consumers’ share of costs. Rising costs of coverage is being driven by rising prices for treatment; for the first time, utilization of health care is expected to plateau this year. Over the last five years, the largest drivers of rising costs have been pharmacy and outpatient hospital prices. The study found wide variability in health costs in different cities. Milliman noted that unprecedented uncertainty in both the economy and the health care system has had mixed impact on costs. People who are unemployed and newly uninsured are reducing use of elective procedures, but those concerned that they may soon lose coverage are accelerating utilization.
Ellen Andrews