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Research Shows Growth in Health Care Prices

The prices for a range of health care services are growing more rapidly than economic inflation in the U.S., according to new research published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).  The research focuses on trends in health care prices, use of services and health care spending in the U.S. versus other similar countries.

Consumers with private insurance experience particularly high increases in costs for services. The KFF also finds that there is “significant geographic variation in prices.”  “For example, the average price of a full knee replacement for those in large employer plans increased from $19,595 in 2003 to $34,063 in 2016, growth of 74 percent compared to a 28 percent increase in general inflation,” it reports.

In New York City, the average cost of the same knee replacement is more than double the cost in the Louisville, Ky., area.  Overall, private insurance prices for inpatient hospital services are significantly more than what is paid by Medicare and Medicaid, and the gap is increasing over time, according to the KFF.

Compared to other countries, the KFF finds that the prices in the U.S. are higher for health care and prescription medications, but use of services, such as physician visits, is lower.  And, the average health care spending per person in other comparable countries is half as much. In the U.S. the average health expenditures per person in 2016 was $10,348, compared to $7,919 in Switzerland and $5,551 in Germany.

The U.S. spent 18 percent of its GDP on health care in 2016, compared to 12 percent in Switzerland.  More information: https://kaiserf.am/2yPwrMa

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