Healthcare price growth at 6-year high as consumers lose confidence in their ability to pay

A man taking cash out of his wallet
An increase in hospital prices appears to be the main culprit behind a record-high growth for the healthcare sector. (Getty/lzf)

Healthcare price growth has reached a record high as more and more consumers are struggling to afford coverage.

According to a report (PDF) from Altarum, healthcare prices grew 2.2% in April compared to one year prior, the highest since January 2012. Hospital price growth was the main culprit and jumped 3.6% compared to a year prior, mostly driven by a 4.6% price growth for Medicare patients and a 3.8% private insurance price growth.

Medicaid prices, comparatively, increased by only 1.6%

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Since December 2007, healthcare prices have increased by more than 20% while the economy as a whole grew by about 17%. Last month's report (PDF) also found that national health spending increased by 5.2%, or $3.6 trillion compared to March 2017. 

The findings come the heels of a recent survey that indicates Americans are losing confidence in their ability to pay for healthcare. 

According to a May 10 poll by the Commonwealth Fund, 62% of survey respondents said they are confident they can afford their healthcare, down 8% from three years ago.

RELATED: 2019 premium requests at Maryland ACA exchange top 91%

Additionally, one-third of respondents with individual coverage said their insurance has become harder to afford over the past 12 months, and only about half said they would have the ability to pay for an unexpected medical bill.

Early 2019 exchange filings are also gesturing that individual plans could be increasingly unaffordable. Insurers in Maryland and Virginia are requesting premium increases for next year that top 91%.

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