Healthcare spending in the United States is projected to increase by $2.5 trillion in the next decade, rising to $6 trillion, and a large chunk of that will come from inpatient procedures at hospitals, according to a report from UnitedHealth Group.
Moderating the increases in prices from hospitals and physicians represent an opportunity to make healthcare more “affordable,” according to the report and a potential opportunity for up to $50 billion in cost savings.
Noting the price increases for common inpatient procedures has risen sharply in the past 15 years, the report called for hospitals and physicians to reduce their price hikes by two percentage points per year. The price charged by a hospital for an appendectomy, for example, has risen 7.5% per year between 2013 and 2017, according to the report. The price for a coronary bypass has risen 6% per year at hospitals and another 1.5% per year from physicians.
Hospital prices are increasing at a rate of about 4.5% per year while the prices charged by physicians are increasing 2.5% per year. The annual cost of hospital inpatient services for privately insured individuals surpassed $200 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow by more than $150 billion, to $350 billion in 2029.
Rising healthcare prices can not only cause financial strain on an individual or family, but have far greater consequences. An elderly couple were found dead last week in an apparent murder-suicide, which was reportedly tied to rising medical bills that the pair could no longer afford.