Maryland sees low health care spending hikes as national rates grow


Maryland sees low health care spending hikes as national rates grow insurance

Health care spending for the privately insured increased 4.6 percent in 2015 nationally, but Maryland had one of the lowest for state spending rates.

A new report from the Health Care Cost Institute revealed prices for outpatient, inpatient and professional care, and prescription drugs increased between 3.5 percent and 9 percent in 2015. Overall spending grew 3.0 percent in 2013 and 2.6 percent in 2014.

Of 18 states — including Washington, D.C. — selected for individual analysis, Maryland was among the two with the lowest per capita spending as well as the lowest out-of pocket spending in 2015. Meanwhile, increasing health care costs have been a major topic in the election cycle. And insurance rates continue to grow at a double-digit pace in Maryland as try to keep pace with cost increases and catch up with losses seen in private insurance pools over the past four years.

Maryland’s per capita spending averaged at $4,559 per person, $582 lower than the national average, and second only to Arizona with the lowest recorded spending, at $4,528 per person. The two states with the highest recorded spending were Texas, at $5,676 per person, and Wisconsin, at $5,773 per person.

Average out-of-pocket spending nationally was $813 per person. Maryland had one of the lowest out-of-pocket spending rankings, at $682. Essentially, Marylanders spend $256 less on out-of-pocket costs than in the highest-ranking state of Texas and just $46 more than in the lowest-ranking, Washington, D.C.

The study covered the period from 2012 through 2015 and included claims data from four national insurance companies: Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare. Overall price increases for prescription drugs and health care services were determined as the primary reason for spending growth.

“Spending grew faster than we might have expected in 2015, given the low growth of previous years,” Senior Researcher Amanda Frost, said in a statement. “The combination of people using more health care services and faster growth in prices pushed up spending, with prices playing the biggest role.”

Frost said it was also important to note that while out-pocket spending has increased each year overall, there was a decline in the number of dollars spent on prescription drugs in 2015. She said this was a surprising detail since 2015 was the first year that kind of decline was seen antionwide.