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March 22, 2010

Employer Healthcare Costs Rising Faster Than Inflation

The average cost of healthcare for American employers is rising faster than inflation and healthcare spending on the whole, according to figures released by Thomson Reuters on Monday.

Researchers at the agency found that employer healthcare costs spiked by 7.9-percent per capita in 2009, according to a survey of 144 companies that provide health benefits to a combined 9.5 million people. The net healthcare payments for employers in the U.S. rose from $3,113 to $3,341.

In contrast, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation, declined by 0.4-percent.

"In a year when inflation was non-existent, employer healthcare costs continued to surge," Chris Justice, a representative from the Healthcare & Science business of Thomson Reuters, said in a statement. "This analysis puts the real-world healthcare challenges facing employers into perspective. These cost increases have come at a particularly difficult time for U.S. companies."

According to the report, companies employing 5,000 workers or less saw their healthcare spending rise by 9.8-percent on average. Employers of 5,000 to 50,000 people experienced a 10-percent rate hike, which companies employing more than 50,000 people saw rates increase by 5-percent.

The Thomson Reuters report also found that net inpatient medical costs rose 4.7-percent, net outpatient costs increased by 8.7-percent, and net pharmacy payments were up 4.3-percent. Overall, healthcare spending in the United States, including both Medicaid and Medicare, grew by 4.8-percent in 2009.

Thomson Reuters is a research and information company headquartered in New York City. According to their official website, they "combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare, science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization."

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