Americans spent more on health care, but received fewer services

Americans pay more for medical services, but seek treatment less often.

The health care industry has recently been affected by a number of different federal regulations that intended to slow the rising cost of care and increase efficiency. These efforts have come at significant cost to the taxpayer, and disrupted the workflow of many practices. Now, a report from the Health Care Cost Institute has found that subscribers to employer-sponsored health plans spent more on medical services in 2013, but received fewer treatments. 

The Institute's Health Care Cost and Utilization Report reviewed data from three of the nation's largest health insurance providers, that combined provide coverage to over 40 million Americans, or roughly a third of the total health care subscribers in the country. 

The report found that average health care spending totaled $4,864 per enrollee in 2013, an increase of $183 from the previous year. However, subscribers's use of brand-name drugs, inpatient and outpatient services all fell during the year, alongside rising prices. 

Out-of-pocket costs averaged $800 per customer during 2013, a 4 percent increase from 2012. This is considered to be due to the rising popularity of high-deductible plans offered by employers, which require employees to pay more before their coverage becomes active. 

The report also concluded that the increase in health care costs would have been more substantial if subscribers continued to use medical services at the same rate as in 2012. 

This trend may worry some accounts receivable management, who recognize that fewer patients seeking treatment may mean that some conditions are going undiagnosed. This can result in higher care costs when care is finally sought, that patients may not be prepared to fully reimburse their provider for. 

Rising health care costs can lead to many care facilities experiencing issues with healthcare revenue cycle management as a result of bad debt. If this is the case at your facility, the decision to outsource receivables management can help to improve cash flow and lower the number of dollars written off to bad debt.