S&P: Healthcare spending rates slow down

The cost of healthcare services provided by insurers continues to rise, but the rate of increase is slowing, according to Standard & Poor's data.

S&P's Healthcare Economic Composite Index concluded that the average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial and Medicare insuers rose 6.27 percent in the 12 months ending in November. That compares with a rise of 6.68 percent for the 12-month period ending in October 2010.

Claims costs associated with commercial plans rose 7.79 percent during the November period, while Medicare costs rose 3.74 percent. The Medicare trend is the lowest since June 2007, when it rose 3.55 percent.

"We are continuing to see a downward trend in the annual growth rates across all the indices," said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, in a statement. "Since May 2010, most of the indices annual growth rates have declined month-to-month. Commercial and Medicare Indices showed annual deceleration of 0.40 percent and 0.45 percent, respectively, compared to October. Likewise, the Hospital and Professional Services Indices annual rates decelerated by approximately 0.40 percent each in November compared to the previous month."

Blitzer noted that the downward trend is expected to continue, although S&P has made no long-term forecasts.

For more:
- read the Standard & Poor's press releasee
- read the Advisor One article