Prices not to blame for health spending growth

Health spending growth may not be a result of the rising cost of health services, but it's still worth keeping an eye on, Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, wrote in a blog post for the Wall Street Journal.

Altman referenced a series of reports from the Altarum Institute that highlighted health spending and costs. In December 2013, health spending grew 4.5 percent, year over year. It was up 5.6 percent in December 2014. Healthcare prices, on the other hand, increased 1.2 percent in December 2013, year over year, and 1.8 percent in December 2014.

Drug prices rose 6.4 percent between December 2013 and December 2014. While this particular increase may seem significant, Altman wrote that the cost of drugs represents only 10 percent of national health spending and therefore does not greatly impact overall health spending.

Even though rising healthcare prices may not be the cause of the national growth in health spending, the issue should not be taken lightly.

A main area of concern for many consumers is the high cost of medical bills. For instance, a couple who retired in 2014 will need $220,000 to cover healthcare costs during retirement, reported Bankrate.

"What's happening now is that Americans are very concerned. They are paying for more healthcare costs. People are realizing, 'Wow, that can have a big impact on my budget,'" Daniel Keady, CFP professional, senior director of financial planning at TIAA-CREF, told Bankrate.

What's more, unexpectedly large medical bills continue to slam consumers--even the ones who are insured. Consumers often receive incorrect or incomplete information from their insurer or provider or, more often than not, later learn that the service was not in network, according to Kaiser Health News.

More than one in five adults who were insured for a full 12 months last year spent 5 percent or more of their income on out-of-pocket costs, not including premiums, and 13 percent spent 10 percent or more, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- here's the WSJ post
- check out the Bankrate piece
- here's the KHN story