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For Employer-Based Plans, Spending Across Services Steady

Spending increased, but not uniformly, across all categories of health services from 2007 to 2016

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TUESDAY, Oct. 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Despite large health policy changes, the distribution of spending across service areas has remained fairly consistent over the past 10 years for those enrolled in employer-sponsored insurance, according to a study published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

Amanda Frost, Ph.D., from the Health Care Cost Institute in Washington, D.C., and colleagues used a national sample of health care claims data from the Health Care Cost Institute to identify total spending per capita for enrollees in employer-sponsored insurance from 2007 through 2016.

The researchers found that during the study period, total spending per capita (not including premiums) on health services increased by 44 percent, with average annual growth of 4.1 percent. All major categories of health services saw spending increases, although the increases were not uniform across years or categories. Generally, growth rates for total per-capita spending slowed after 2009 but increased between 2014 and 2016. Compared with spending for other types of services, spending on outpatient services grew more quickly (average annual growth of 5.7 percent), although the overall distribution of spending across categories remained largely unchanged.

"It will be essential to continue to study the composition of health care spending for the population with employer-sponsored insurance, which has historically received less attention in part because access to claims data has been limited," the authors write.

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