Inpatient, outpatient healthcare costs have doubled in nine years

Medical inflation is at its most moderate levels in years, but the cost of hospital inpatient and outpatient care continues to outpace the costs of other sector components, according to a new report by actuarial firm Milliman.

The Milliman Medical Index reports that the cost of providing healthcare this year for a four-member household is $19,393, up 6.7 percent, or $1,319, from 2010, but still nearly double the cost in 2002 of $9,235.

"We don't see anything on the near-term horizon that's going to bend that downward," Milliman principal Lorraine Mayne, one of the study's co-authors, told the Associated Press.

The biggest cost drivers in the past year have been medical care rendered by outpatient clinics and acute care hospitals. Outpatient care costs rose 10 percent, while hospital costs rose 8.6 percent. However, inpatient care contributes 31 percent of the total costs of healthcare delivery, "the largest single contributor to the 2011 increase in the MMI," the report said.

Miami, New York City and Chicago saw the largest cost increases over the past year, ranging between 13 percent and 20 percent higher than the nationwide average, while cities such as Phoenix, Seattle and Atlanta experienced increases significantly below average.

For more:
- read the Associated Press article
- here's the study (.pdf)