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These 14 Figures Show the Sources of Soaring Health-Care Costs in America

A new report shows rising costs for prescription drugs and emergency room visits.
Doctor's waiting room

America spends more money on health care per person than any other country with similar life expectancies, and those costs don't show much of a decline.

A Health Care Cost Institute report released this month shows that overall health-care spending continues to rise in the United States, despite almost no change in Americans' use of provided medical services. Analyzing data from about four billion claims, the report breaks down the patterns of approximately 40 million people under the age of 65 with employee-sponsored insurance. Diving into the categories of inpatient, outpatient, professional services, and prescription drugs, the researchers graph out the figures directly comparing health-care utilization and the associated spending.

Americans utilized health services such as overnight hospital stays, emergency room visits, pharmacy use, and physician visits to the same extent in both 2015 and 2016. But increased pricing paid by insurers and out of pocket caused spending to spike in 2016, according to the report.

With the growth in spending rate showing little sign of slowing down, here are 14 numbers on health-care pricing and utilization you should know:

  • 4.6: The 2016 growth rate percentage in total spending, which is faster than the 4.1 percent in 2015, and sub-3 percent growth from 2012 to 2014.
  • $5,407: The amount of total health-care spending per person in 2016.
  • $88: Each consumer is spending $88 more out-of-pocket in 2016 than consumers did in 2012.
  • 27: The cumulative percentage growth in prescription drug spending from 2012 to 2016. This was the highest among the growth of any service category during the five-year period.
  • 24.9: The cumulative percentage increase in prescription drug prices between 2012 and 2016. This includes the "astronomical" prices of specialized treatments, such as anti-cancer drugs.
  • 110: Brand prescription drug prices soared, more than doubling at a rate of 110 percent increase from 2012 to 2016.
  • -38: Despite the price increase in brand prescription drugs, brand prescription drug utilization went down 38 percent over the five-year period.
  • 31.5: The cumulative percentage price growth over five years for the average emergency room visit. However, emergency rooms are still facing severe drug shortages.
  • $10,000: The increase in average price for surgical admissions from 2012 to 2016.
  • 19: The percentage increase in price for outpatient surgery from 2012 to 2016.
  • $221: People are spending a total of $221 more in 2016 than they did in 2012 for outpatient services, such as emergency room visits, outpatient surgery, radiology, lab work, and other services.
  • 12.9: The percentage decline in inpatient hospital admission rates over the five years.
  • 24.3: The percentage growth in prices for inpatient services between 2012 and 2016.
  • 11: The cumulative percentage spending growth on visits to physicians, administered drugs, anesthesia, radiology, pathology, and related services.