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Revealed: What's Really Driving Up Healthcare Costs

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, July 25, 2012

Think you know what's driving up healthcare costs?  Hoards of uninsured patients seeking emergency department are? Unconscionable prices charged by pharmaceutical companies? The practice of defensive medicine?

Guess again.

The answer might be lurking in your own home.

According to a report from the Health Care Cost Institute, a Washington, DC-based research group, spending on healthcare costs for commercially insured children under age 18 grew faster than spending for adults from 2007 to 2010. HCCI had access to three billion health insurance claims from Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare.

Insurers and consumers spent nearly $88 billion on healthcare for children in 2010, up by 12% percent from 2007, according to the HCCI. Spending increased even though the number of children covered by employer-sponsored insurance dropped from 44 million in 2007 to 41.4 million in 2010.

By comparison, healthcare costs for adults increased by 8%.

This is the first time researchers have been able study such a large number of claims from different carriers. The results of the study suggest that controlling healthcare cost over the long term may be tougher than anyone has imagined.

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