The 5.6 increase in medical costs statewide is the biggest since the MN Community Measurement nonprofit started releasing cost of care data for medical groups two years ago.
The nonprofit measures costs by tallying insurance claims made by the more than 1.5 million patients enrolled in the four health plans available in
On top of being a larger increase than the 3.2 percent one highlighted in last year's report, the uptick also far outpaces income increases for Minnesotans over the same time period.
"That's worrisome when you think of how much pressure there is on families," he said.
Higher costs in
The cost of care for insured patients at the medical groups included in the report ranged from
In a statement,
The increase from year to year could be explained by a variety of factors, said
Of the factors the clinic can control, Farrow said it's typical to have about a 2 to 3 percent increase in costs per year, mostly to make up for inflation and wage increases.
Pharmacy costs were one of the factors Farrow said the clinics don't control -- apart from their willingness to prescribe generic drugs -- but they could still be attributed to the clinic in insurance claims. At a 9.3 percent increase, take-home pharmacy costs were the services with the largest increase from last year.
In an unintentional way, preventive care could also be a driver of increased costs. Farrow said if clinics are encouraging patients to be proactive with their health, it could lead to more visits to the clinic in a given year. More visits equal higher costs for care, although the short-term expense should be eclipsed by cost savings related to maintaining a healthier lifestyle in the following years.
Whatever the cause of the increases, Farrow said the transparent cost for care measures are good from both a patient and medical group perspective.
"It's good to start having people see this data and be more transparent," he said. "I think it's going to make us all better and more competitive because we know price is an issue."
The issue isn't expected to go away next year either, Chase said. Premium hikes for individual insurance plans announced recently could foretell a similar increase in cost of care next year.
"I'm guessing we'll see continued acceleration of health care costs, and that's worrisome," he said.
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