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Healthcare Cost Growth 'Slows' to 5.4%

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 22, 2014

Although the 5.4% growth is the lowest cost increase since the Milliman Medical Index began keeping track in 2002, it also represents the ninth straight year in which annual costs have increased by at least $1,100.

First the good news.

The 14th annual Milliman Medical Index reports that healthcare cost growth continues a decade-long slowing trend for a family of four enrolled in an employer-sponsored preferred provider plan.

Now the bad news.

Even with slower growth, healthcare costs for that family will increase 5.4% in 2014, which represents an average bump of $1,185 per family and a total cost of $23,215, with employers paying $13,520 and employees paying $9,695, according to Milliman, the Seattle-based healthcare actuarial firm.

Although that 5.4% growth is the lowest cost increase since MMI began keeping track in 2002, it also represents the ninth straight year in which annual costs have increased by at least $1,100. In 2013 growth was 6.3%, and in the past decade the cost of healthcare for that family of four as measured by MMI has increased by 107%, from $11,192 in 2004 to $23,215 in 2014.

"It's a shocking amount of money," MMI co-author Chris Girod said in a telephone interview. "At some point how can a family afford this stuff? Their costs keep going up $1,100 a year. They aren't paying for all of it, but as we saw in this recent economic slowdown that is a time when employers may push more of the costs onto their employees."

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