SHNS: Health Care Spending Surge Comes At “Time Of Disruption”

Mar 14, 2023

By Colin A. Young, State House News Service

The following excerpt is from an article originally published by State House News Service on March 13, 2023:

A new report estimates that per capita health care expenditures in Massachusetts shot up 9 percent in 2021 after having dropped 2.3 percent in 2020, giving elected officials and policymakers fresh data two days ahead of hearing that could consider how the health costs oversight system put in place by a 2012 cost control law can account for the myriad changes brought on or exacerbated by the pandemic.

The Center for Health Information and Analysis, created under that 2012 law, released its annual report on Monday examining health care spending trends in 2021. The independent agency estimated total health care spending in Massachusetts at $67.9 billion in 2021, and a per capita health care expenditure of $9,715 per resident.

Member cost-sharing among private health plans rose 16.9 percent in 2021 to $58 per member per month. Enrollment in high deductible health plans, under which patients pay more out of pocket before insurance kicks in, grew by 4.1 percent and now accounts for 42.7 percent of enrollments in the private market, the report said.

Zach Stanley, chief corporate affairs officer at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council trade group, said, “Although the CHIA report does not analyze why pharmacy spend increased during this time period, if national trends are any indication, increases in utilization are the most likely cause, not increased cost of drugs. During a pandemic an increase in the utilization of medicines that can keep people healthy and out of the hospital should be viewed as money well spent.”

“The real cause for concern is that member cost-sharing increased 16.9% forcing patients to pay more out of their pocket for their healthcare despite total healthcare spending only increasing by 3.2% in those three years,” Stanley added.

Read the full article at CommonWealth Magazine.

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