Data released today for the S&P Healthcare Claims Indices show that for the 12-month period through May 2013, medical and prescription drug costs together rose 3.5% as drug costs rose 0.6% and medical costs rose 4.2%. These figures, which represent the most current data available in the healthcare industry, compare the average level of the cost indices in the 12 months ended May 2013 with the average level for the 12 months ended May 2012, the normal industry calculation of trends.
“The S&P Healthcare Claims Indices are based on data on actual expenditures for hospitalization, outpatient services and prescription drugs for Americans covered by commercial health insurance plans,” says David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “These data provide a benchmark for evaluating various healthcare plans including the Affordable Care Act. The Indices are a relevant and transparent benchmark for measuring U.S. healthcare costs providing health insurers, consumers, employers, healthcare provider systems, and other users with the most current data available on the current rising cost of U.S. healthcare.”
“The data released today for the S&P Healthcare Claims Indices confirm that while the rate of increase of medical care expenditures in the U.S. is slowing, it is still rising faster than disposable personal income. Where possible, healthcare expenditures do respond to economic incentives. Comparing branded and generic pharmaceuticals, unit costs—expenditures divided by days of prescription supplied—rose 16.1% for branded versus 3.0% for generic. Utilization of generics rose 9.7% while utilization of branded fell 16.8% in the 12 months ended May 2013.”
Trends for total medical cost, medical cost excluding pharmaceuticals, and pharmaceuticals declined over the period. Two factors that may have contributed to these developments were shifts from inpatient to outpatient treatments as shown by the larger growth in outpatient expenditures. Second, as shown by the data on prescription drugs, there are cost-driven shifts from branded to generic pharmaceuticals.