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Annual Health Spending for Those With Job-Based Insurance Hits All-Time High: Report

Yuval Rosenberg

Average annual health care spending for people with employer-provided private insurance rose to an all-time high of $5,892 in 2018, according to the Health Care Cost Institute’s yearly Health Care Cost and Utilization Report, released on Thursday.

Spending per person grew by 18.4% from 2014 to 2018, the report says, with about three-quarters of the increase due to rising prices rather than an increased use of health care services. In 2018, use of services edged up 1.8%, the first uptick in several years.

“Looked at another way,” STAT’s Ed Silverman writes, “from 2014 to 2018, per capita GDP in the U.S. grew annually at an average rate of 3.4%, while health care spending per person for those with employer coverage grew 4.3% on average. Meanwhile, per-person spending on prescription drugs grew at an average annual rate of 5.9%.”


Some other data points from the report:

  • Health care spending grew 4.4% in 2018, the third straight year growth was above 4%.
  • Out-of-pocket costs for people with job-based rose 14.5%, or $114, between 2014 and 2018. That includes copays, coinsurance and deductible payments, but not premiums.
  • Prescription drug spending for those with private insurance rose by 26% over that period, outpacing cost increases in other categories (see chart below).
  • Per person spending on drugs accounted for almost 20% of all health care spending.
  • The average price of medicine climbed by almost 21%.
  • Generic drugs accounted for 88% of all prescriptions, and out-of-pocket payments for generic prescriptions were less than one-fifth of such payments for brand-name drugs.
  • Emergency room spending increased 32% over the five years studied.
  • Spending on psychiatry rose by 43% over that span, driven mostly by increased use.


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