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WellPoint Institute of Health Care Knowledge Releases Report on Health Care Costs
Date:5/27/2009

Advances in medical technology identified as primary driver of increased costs

INDIANAPOLIS, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The WellPoint Institute of Health Care Knowledge today released a report detailing the primary drivers of increased health care services and health insurance premiums, dispelling the notion that insurer profits are fueling spiking costs. The May 2009 Institute report, titled "What's Really Driving the Increase in Health Care Premiums?," compiles research from sources such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Congressional Budget Office.

"As the health care reform debate heats up, the results of this report provide important insights into the drivers of health care costs in this country," said Sam Nussbaum, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer of WellPoint, Inc. "The bottom line is that those items typically blamed for rising health care costs -- insurer profits, the aging of America and the high cost of medical malpractice -- in fact have little impact on health care premiums."

According to the report the "key drivers" of spiraling U.S. health care costs are:

  • Advances in medical technology and subsequent increases in utilization.
  • Price inflation for medical services that exceeds inflation in other sectors of the economy.
  • Cost-shifting from people who are uninsured and those receiving Medicare and Medicaid to the private sector.
  • High cost of regulatory compliance.
  • Patient lifestyles, such as physical inactivity and increases in obesity.

Citing research from PricewaterhouseCoopers' December 2008 report, The Factors Fueling Rising Health Care Costs, the report also debunks a commonly held belief about the profitability of health
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SOURCE WellPoint, Inc.
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