No surprise – Healthcare costs climb

Bad news that comes as no surprise is still bad news.

The annual Milliman Medical Index report came out last week with numbers on the rising cost of healthcare, and the results are depressing, if not exactly shocking. In 2015, healthcare for a typical American family of four with employer-sponsored health insurance topped $24,600. this year, it’s $25,826. That’s triple what it was in 2001 and it’s about 30 percent of the median family income.

Tara Courtland

Communications Director Tara Courtland

Of course families don’t pay all that out of pocket. Employers pick up about $14,800 of that, meaning each family pays about $10,000 in actual dollars for healthcare each year. The employer contribution has been decreasing steadily too, of course, so individual costs are rising twice: first as the cost of healthcare rises, and second, as employers pay less of it.

In my family of four, our healthcare costs now equal our mortgage payments.

This is somewhat unsettling, particularly when I think about my friends in the medical professions — they’re not exactly rolling in profits. I’d feel better if they were.

The good news — if there is any — is that this year saw a smaller increase than usual. It’s prescription drugs that are driving most of the increasing costs now — prescription drugs account for almost 17 percent of all healthcare costs.

The worse news is that all of those numbers only apply to people with employee-sponsored health insurance. Total healthcare spending is far higher because people over 65 — usually covered by Medicare rather than employee-sponsored insurance — have much higher healthcare costs.

Taking Americans as a whole, healthcare cost about $9,500 per person in 2014 — about $38,000 for a family of four — and it’s on the rise.

So what’s the answer? Until someone comes up with a better solution, I’m simply going to lower my own mental health costs by not reading any more healthcare reports.

You can read the full Milliman report at us.milliman.com/mmi/.

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About Tara Courtland

Tara Courtland is the communications director at NEMT.
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