S&P shows moderate healthcare cost inflation

Healthcare costs in the United States are continuing to rise, but the rate of increase is slowing, according to new data from Standard & Poor's.

The S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index indicated that per capita costs for healthcare services covered either by private insurance or the Medicare program rose 6.7 percent between October 2009 and October of this year, compared to 7.08 for the 12 months ending in September. That's also down dramatically from the peak month of increase in May 2010, when costs were rising at 8.4 percent.

What's more, the cost differential between private and public plans was substantial. The costs among private insurers rose 8.21 percent, compared to just a 4.18 percent increase for Medicare--the smallest increase since January 2008.

"The annual growth rate of Medicare and commercial insurance costs has slowed significantly in the last five months and substantially dropped in the month of October," Chairman of the S&P Index Committee David M. Blitzer said in a statement.

Blitzer noted that the Medicare cost index for hospital services had slowed to a 3.3 percent annual growth rate in October 2010, vs. nearly 4 percent in September. However the professional services growth rate was significantly higher, at 5.13 percent in October, vs. 5.4 percent in September.

For more:
- read the S&P press release
- read the Healthcare Finance News article