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Deceleration in US Healthcare Costs Continues According to the S&P Healthcare Economic Indices

June 16, 2011

NEW YORK, June 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Data released today by S&P Indices for the S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index indicate that the average per capita cost of healthcare services covered by commercial insurance and Medicare programs increased by 5.39% over the 12-months ending April 2011. Since May 2010, annual rates of growth of healthcare costs have been largely decelerating.

At +5.39%, the Composite index posted its lowest annual growth rate in its six-year history. The highest rate for the Composite index was during the 12-months ending May 2010, when it was up 8.74%. In less than a year, this index has seen a steep fall in its annual growth rate by 3.35 percentage points. Even steeper has been the decline in the Medicare index, with its April 2011 +2.48% annual growth rate down 4.36 percentage points since May 2010, and down 5.53 percentage points since its November 2009 high.

Over the year ending April 2011, healthcare costs covered by commercial insurance increased by 7.13%, as measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Commercial Index. Medicare claim costs rose at an annual rate of 2.48%, as measured by the S&P Healthcare Economic Medicare Index. With April’s data, the Medicare Index posted another record low annual growth rate in its six-year history.

“The trend of deceleration in US healthcare costs, which started in May 2010, continues,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. “The Composite Index rose by 5.39%, the Commercial Index by +7.13% and the Medicare Index was up 2.48%, compared to their April 2010 levels. Both the Composite and Medicare Indices posted record low annual growth rates with this month’s report. But while we continue to see healthcare costs decelerate, all three rates are still above core inflation, significantly so for Commercial healthcare costs.

“Our three headline indices witnessed record high growth rates in late 2009/early 2010, and have sharply decelerated since that time, with two of them reaching new lows. The highest annual growth rates for the Composite and Commercial indices were during the 12-months ending May 2010, when they were up 8.74% and 9.87%, respectively. The Medicare index posted its high of +8.01% in November 2009. Since their respective highs the Composite has decelerated by 3.35 percentage points, the Commercial by 2.74 percentage points and the Medicare by 5.53 percentage points.

“Additionally, both the Hospital and Hospital Medicare indices growth rates hit new six-year lows. The Hospital index posted an annual growth rate of +4.86% and the Hospital Medicare index was up a scant +0.93%, arguably the only healthcare costs that are in line with or below core inflation rates. With an annual rate of +5.73%, the Professional Services index is only 0.05 percentage points away from its historical low of +5.68% recorded in February 2009.

“Historically, there has been a general pattern of healthcare trends declining on a lagged basis following economic downturns. Much of our spending on healthcare is related to supply-side factors – in particular, the supply of new technology and procedures. It takes considerable time for investments in healthcare to translate into increased supply and, conversely, reduced investments often result in a reduction in trend a few years later. The decline in index growth rates that began in mid-2010 may be a result of trends slowing due to reduced capital spending during the recession that began in 2007.”

The S&P Healthcare Economic Indices estimate the per capita change in revenues accrued each month by hospital and professional services facilities for services provided to patients covered under traditional Medicare and commercial health insurance programs in the U.S. The annual growth rates are determined by calculating a percent change of the 12-month moving averages of the monthly index levels versus the same month of the prior year.

The S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index is a weighted average of the S&P Healthcare Economic Commercial Index and the S&P Healthcare Economic Medicare Index. Alternatively, it is a weighted average of the S&P Healthcare Economic Hospital Index and the S&P Healthcare Economic Professional Services Index, as each of these indices has the analogous Commercial and Medicare component.

The table below summarizes the year-over-year change in the S&P Healthcare Economic Indices for the 12-month period ending April 2011. With each monthly release, the index levels, including the 12-month moving averages, are recalculated for the full history of the indices, whenever there are revisions to underlying data used in the models. The entire revised history, as well as full results for the underlying S&P Healthcare Economic Indices, is available from Standard & Poor’s as a subscription service.


                         S&P Healthcare Economic Indices
                            (12-Month Moving Average)
                            -------------------------
    Index                                                1-Year Change (%)
    -----                                                -----------------
    S&P Healthcare Economic Composite Index                           5.39%
    ---------------------------------------                           ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Commercial Index                          7.13%
    ----------------------------------------                          ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Medicare Index                            2.48%
    --------------------------------------                            ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Hospital Index                            4.86%
    --------------------------------------                            ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Hospital Medicare Index                   0.93%
    -----------------------------------------------                   ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Hospital Commercial Index                 7.93%
    -------------------------------------------------                 ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Professional Services Index               5.73%
    ---------------------------------------------------               ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Professional Services
     Medicare Index                                                   4.46%
    ---------------------------------------------                     ----
    S&P Healthcare Economic Professional Services
     Commercial Index                                                 6.26%
    ---------------------------------------------                     ----
    Source: Standard & Poor's
    Data through April 2011

We continue to observe that medical costs funded by commercial insurance plans significantly exceed those funded by Medicare.

The S&P Healthcare Economic Indices were developed in consultation with Health Index Advisors, a joint venture between Aon Hewitt and Milliman, Inc., and were derived from the former Milliman, Inc. Health Cost Index(TM) which was first published in 1987. The complete methodology, fact sheet and supporting research for the S&P Healthcare Economic Indices are available at www.healthcareindices.standardandpoors.com. A whitepaper introducing the S&P Healthcare Economic Indices has been published by Standard & Poor’s and can be accessed here http://bit.ly/hhTvLb.

Standard & Poor’s does not sponsor, endorse, sell or promote any S&P index-based investment product

About S&P Indices

S&P Indices, the world’s leading index provider, maintains a wide variety of investable and benchmark indices to meet an array of investor needs. Over $1.25 trillion is directly indexed to Standard & Poor’s family of indices, which includes the S&P 500, the world’s most followed stock market index, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, the S&P Global BMI, an index with approximately 11,000 constituents, the S&P GSCI, the industry’s most closely watched commodities index, and the S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index, the premier investable index for U.S. municipal bonds. For more information, please visit www.standardandpoors.com/indices.

For more information:


     David R. Guarino                 David  M. Blitzer
     Standard & Poor's                Standard & Poor's
     Communications                   Chairman of the Index Committee
     212-438-1471                     212-438-3907
    dave_guarino@standardandpoors.com david_blitzer@standardandpoors.com

SOURCE Standard & Poor’s


Source: newswire



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