Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 21, 2012

Study: Healthcare Costs Skyrocketing, Especially for Kids

I feel like a bad mother. Times are tight and we’ve been trying to economize everywhere. We’ve even thought of discontinuing our 10-year-old son’s health insurance. He’s pretty healthy and chances are he’s not going the need the colonoscopy I have coming up, or the possible knee replacement for his dad, for quite some time.

But a recent story has us rethinking this plan. Healthcare costs rose faster than inflation between 2009 and 2010, and expenses grew fastest among children, according to a report released Monday from the Health Care Cost Institute, as reported by Elizabeth Landau at CNN.

The study points out how out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are soaring, and hard to believe but true, spending in general is growing fastest among Americans 18 and under.

Landau wrote that the institute is an independent not-for-profit research organization that hooked up with Aetna, Kaiser, United and Humana to analyze three billion insurance claims of people with group employer-sponsored health insurance.

The survey found that consumers' out-of-pocket expenses rose seven percent from 2009 to 2010, the institute found, according to Landau. But, for insurers, costs only rose 2.6 percent during that time period.

Under 65, the average annual spending on health care per person was $4,255 – including what both people and their insurance companies paid.

Between 2009 and 2010, it rose 4.5 percent for Americans under 18. That may not seem like much, but that’s 74.5 million children in the U.S. in 2009, or 24.3 percent of the U.S. population. 

Landau reports that the trend has been going up for children since 2007, when the average annual expenditure for this group was $1,790, compared to $2,123.

What is driving the trend in health care expenditures? The report suggests that it's prices, according to Landau. (Though I wonder, too, whether it’s not our obesity crisis – 21 to 24 percent of our kids are overweight and another 16 to 18 percent are obese – and the diseases that can bring on.)

If you’ve been to the emergency room lately, you probably paid 11 percent more in 2010 than you did a year earlier, or an additional $1,327, according to the study.

Average inpatient surgical admission prices rose 6.4 percent; outpatient surgery prices rose 8.9 percent. And if your child unfortunately has a chronic disease like hemophilia, or requires kidney dialysis or some other kind of on-going treatment, forget vacations and dinners out. 

Should we have to refinance our homes to pay for healthcare? Most of us think not. But until someone comes up with a better way to avoid the doctor, we’re in for it, I guess.

Edited by Braden Becker

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