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Health care costs are expected to rise 7.5% in 2013, according to management consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers. In its annual report on the nation’s medical cost trend, the company’s Health Research Institute said that it would mark the fourth consecutive year that the annual cost increase is less than 8%.
The actual increase may be closer to 5.5% when accounting for changes in insurance benefits, such as higher deductibles and co-payments, the report said.
In 2010 and 2011, the Health Research Institute projected 9% growth in costs. It now estimates actual growth in those years came in as much as two percentage points lower.
In an article on the report, Bloomberg noted that such factors as inexpensive walk-up health clinics, lower costs for drugs and medical supplies and state laws requiring hospitals to publish prices may all contribute to the smaller cost increases of late.
But upcoming years may see higher increases, due in part to health care reform. The report says that when the Affordable Care Act expands coverage to an additional 30 million Americans in 2014, it may cause “a spike in spending.”