US Healthcare Costs Annual Growth Rates slow down in January 2012

According to the S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index the average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare Insurance programs increased by 5.21% over the 12-months ending January 2012. This was a decline from the +5.30% annual growth rate posted for December 2011.

As measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Commercial Index, healthcare costs covered by commercial insurance plans increased by 7.05% over the year ending January 2012, down from the +7.11% reported for December 2011. Growth rates in Medicare Insurance claim costs increased by 2.40%, as measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Medicare Index, down from the +2.52% reported for December. The Professional Services Index’s annual growth rate also plummeted from its +5.37% December 2011 rate, increasing by 5.13% in January.

Looking at the narrower sub-indices, the Professional Services Medicare Index hit a two-year low of +3.32% in January 2012, down from +3.73% in December 2011. The Hospital Medicare annual growth rate increased in January at +1.56%, it was up from its +1.48% December level. The Professional Services Commercial Index decreased to +6.02% in January from +6.15% in December; and the Hospital Commercial Index marginally decreased to +7.84% in January from +7.85% in the previous month.

This month’s data, which was through January 2012, illustrates a modest deceleration in most types of healthcare costs, but not sufficient to show any turnaround of this trend. Over the past six months or so, annual rates of change in per capita healthcare costs were in general increasing.

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