Tracking Health Care Costs: Trends Turn Downward in 2003

June 9, 2004
Health Affairs , Web Exclusive, June 9, 2004.
Bradley C. Strunk, Paul B. Ginsburg

Health care spending per privately insured person increased 7.4 percent in 2003. While lower than the 2002 increase, it still outpaced growth in the overall economy by a margin that exceeds the historical average. The trend for drug spending decelerated the most. Meanwhile, hospital spending grew 9 percent in 2003—1.8 percentage points less than the 2002 increase. This reflected a sharp deceleration in growth of hospital use, while growth in hospital prices accelerated for the sixth year in a row. The trend for health insurance premiums fell in 2004. Employers raised patient cost sharing for the third year in a row.

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