S&P: Annual growth rates accelerate in January

Data released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for the S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index indicates that the average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 3.83% over the 12 months ending January 2013. This is an acceleration from the +3.72% annual growth rate recorded in December 2012.

Eight of the nine S&P Healthcare Economic Indices showed increased annual growth rates in January 2013. As measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Commercial Index, healthcare costs covered by commercial insurance plans increased by 5.41% in January, up from +5.38% reported for December. Annual growth rates in Medicare claim costs rose by 1.41%, according to the S&P Healthcare Economic Medicare Index, up from +1.19% recorded in December.

The Professional Services Index annual growth rate was +4.98% in January 2013, up from the +4.77% December 2012 point. The Professional Services Commercial Index accelerated to +7.58% in January, up from +7.33% reported in December. The Professional Services Medicare annual growth rate was +0.03% in January, up from -0.12% posted in December.

The Hospital Index’s growth rate was +2.58% in January, up from +2.55% recorded in December. It was driven by the Hospital Medicare Index, which posted a +2.17% annual rate in January and +1.91% last month. The Hospital Commercial annual growth rate hit its historic low of +2.86% in January; it posted +3.00% in December.

“In January 2013 eight of the nine headline healthcare indices we publish showed acceleration in their annual growth rates,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. While eight of the nine key components increased, the increases were small to moderate.

“The Composite Index posted an annual rate of +3.83%, the Commercial Index +5.41% and the Medicare Index +1.41%. In January, four of the nine healthcare indices ticked up from their historic lows posted in December. They were the Composite Index, the Medicare Index, the Professional Services Medicare Index and the Hospital Index. The Commercial Index at +5.41% went 0.03 percentage points above its recent low posted in December. The only index that decelerated in January was the Hospital Commercial; it posted a historic low of +2.86%.

“The Professional Services Medicare posted +0.03% in January, 0.15 percentage points up from its December rate. It has the lowest annual growth rate among our healthcare indices. The Professional Services Commercial Index was +7.58% this month, 0.25 percentage points up from its December rate. It remains the highest index among healthcare indices we cover.”

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