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Healthcare Cost Growth Acceleration Continues

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 22, 2012

The average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 6.14% over the 12-months ending April 2012, Standard & Poor's Healthcare Economic Indices show.

The uptick continues an acceleration of cost growth that began in October, 2011 and includes an almost half a percentage point jump from the +5.65% rate posted for the 12-month period ending in March 2012, the S&P Indices show.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, says the accelerated cost growth is linked to increased utilization but it's not clear what is driving the increased utilization.

Meanwhile, spending on healthcare is expected to continue on an upward trajectory, according to projections released Tuesday by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

"It may be that we are far enough from the depths of the last recession that people are a little more upbeat about spending money," Blitzer tells HealthLeaders Media. "I know we are seeing that outside of healthcare. Consumer spending had a small recovery and consumers are willing to borrow. Compared with a couple years ago, people seem a little more relaxed about spending money, whether it is businesses or individuals. And I think that affects this as well."

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