The report found that per-capita spending for individuals under age 65 increased 3.3 percent in 2010, down from 6 percent in 2008 and 5.8 percent in 2009. However, the 2010 increase was still about twice as much as overall inflation, Gaynor said. By age group, the biggest percentage increase in 2010 per-capita expenditures — 4.5 percent — was for children 18 and under.
The biggest price increases from 2009 to 2010 were for emergency-room visits (11 percent), outpatient surgery (8.9 percent), and treatments for mental health and substance abuse (8.6 percent). But even the price of a visit to a primary-care physician was up 5.3 percent, to $86.
“A provider increasing their price is not resulting in any patient attrition” because too few consumers know the prices for their health care, said Douglas Ghertner, president of Change Healthcare Corp., a Brentwood, Tenn., company that helps employers and health plans increase price transparency.
Separately, the 2012 Milliman Medical Index, released last week, showed that the total cost of health care for a family of four covered by a preferred-provider plan climbed 6.9 percent, to $20,728.
The annual projected increase was less than 7 percent for the first time in the 12-year history of the index, according to Milliman, a Seattle actuarial and consulting firm.
In Philadelphia, the average cost, $22,054, is 6.4 percent higher than the national average, Milliman said. Philadelphia had the fifth-highest cost of 14 major cities studied.
The decline in the annual percentage increase is good news for employers and families, but there is little long-term relief. Nationwide, costs are up 33 percent since 2008 and up 35 percent over the same period in Philadelphia.
Contact Harold Brubaker at 215-854-4651 or firstname.lastname@example.org.