Health care costs continue to rise, but at a slower rate, reports Standard & Poor’s Healthcare Economic Composite Index. From March 2010 to March 2011 health care costs covered by commercial insurance rose by 7.6 percent. In comparison, Medicare claims costs rose at an annual rate of 2.8 percent. It’s the lowest annual rate of growth posted for Medicare in the six years S&P has tracked the program’s costs.
The index, which follows health care service costs covered by both commercial and Medicare programs, reports that the average per-capita cost increased by 5.8 percent over the 12 months ending in March 2011. After a temporary increase reported with January’s data, health care costs have resumed their deceleration in annual growth rates — in the period ending in January 2011 and February 2011, this index had posted increases of 6.30 percent and 6.17 percent, respectively.
12-month average of health care economic indices
For several years, the upward trend of medical costs funded by commercial insurance plans has been significantly greater than those funded by Medicare.