Healthcare Cost Institute logoAccording to the Health Care Cost Institute’s Health Care Cost and Utilization Report: 2011, the amount in average dollars spent on healthcare services in 2011 jumped 4.6 percent, far exceeding the 3.8 percent growth rate in 2010. The average amount spent per person for the year reached $4,547.

Not only did average costs rise, but consumers spent more in out-of-pocket expenses than in 2010, rising from $703 to $735 per person. Last year saw the reversal of the previous cost slowdown experienced between 2009 and 2010 where growth had slowed from 5.8 percent to 3.8 percent.

Addressing the cause of the upward momentum, the HCCI board chairman Martin Gaynor expressed uncertainty.“It’s hard to know whether this means spending levels are going to continue rising, (but the 2011 numbers are) a signal that we have to pay attention to,” he said. “We need to continue studying these data to see whether this acceleration in spending growth is the beginning of an upward trend that will return us to pre-recession levels.”

All major categories of health care prices rose during the year, including costs for hospital stays, outpatient care, procedures, and prescriptions, though the rise was somewhat tempered by the spending slowdown for prescriptions which ticked up just 1 percent over the year. Highest per capita spending was found in the Northeast reaching $4,659 while the lowest spending was found in the West at $4,358, widening the gap between most spending and least spending regions by $69 between 2010 and 2011.

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