Healthcare Cost Growth Slows but Easily Outpaces Inflation
The indices show that healthcare costs covered by commercial insurance plans increased by 7.05% over the year ending in September, down from the 7.81% annual increase reported for August. Medicare claim costs growth slowed to 2.04%, compared to 2.48% in August.
Blitzer says the sputtering economy may be depressing volume for elective procedures.
"In a weak economy and with people concerned about job losses, there is some downward movement in elective treatments," he says. "If someone is afraid of losing their job, do they get the elective work done right away, or do they delay it because they want to be seen in the office and they don't want the boss to put them on the wrong list?"
"The other thing that shows up in a weak economy and low inflation is that salary and wage increases will be less than otherwise," he says. "When hospitals set their salary standards and the inflation rate is 2%, they aren't going to hand out 10% across-the-board raises. They probably would bargain harder for anything they buy from vendors, from aspirins to MRI machines, because money is a little tighter and they are concerned about where the next dollar is coming from."
- CMS Mulls Income-Adjusting MA Stars
- As Retail Clinics Surge, Quality Metrics MIA
- Providers' Push to Consolidate Roils Payers
- Providers Prep for New Payment Models as Population Health Grows
- Former NQF Co-Chair Linked to Conflicts of Interest in Journal Probe
- No Employee Satisfaction, No Patient-Centered Culture
- 3 Ways to Rev Employee Development Programs
- 6 Not-So-Good Reasons for Avoiding Population Health
- Medicare Cost, Quality Data Tools Weak, Says GAO
- Aligning Executive Compensation with Provider Mission