Healthcare costs beginning to accelerate

The costs of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare grew slightly more than 5 percent during 2011, although the growth rates for hospitals was higher, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

According to Standard & Poor's, the cost differential between the Medicare and commercial plans was significant: The commercial segment's costs were up 7.11 percent during 2011, compared to 2.51 percent for the Medicare plans. Commercial costs were up less than 6 percent in 2009.

However, growth rates in the hospital realm were even higher, at 7.95 percent for the year, with a trend line that accelerated after the middle of 2011.

"Healthcare costs annual growth rates bounced back in December," said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, in a press release. "Since the end of the summer we have generally seen increasing annual growth rates, particularly with healthcare costs covered by commercial plans... we appear to be entering 2012 witnessing a renewed acceleration in healthcare costs."

In addition to the commercial-costs growth in the latter part of last year, Medicare service costs were up 3.72 percent in December compared to December 2010.

To learn more:
- get the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article
- see the S&P press release