A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

The Slowing of Drug Prices May Be Over

The Slowing of Drug Prices May Be Over

May 16, 2008

Some people say, what's the big deal with spending on pharmaceuticals? Its rate of increase has been going down over the past couple of years.

Then there's this, from today's Kaiser Health Policy report and the Wall Street Journal:

The cost of health care for the average U.S. family with employer-sponsored health coverage will increase 7.6% this year, due in part to rising prescription drug prices, according to a Milliman study released on Wednesday, Dow Jones reports. The fifth annual Milliman Medical Index analyzed historical claims data and trends in provider contracting and examined the drivers and components of medical spending. According to the study, the cost of medical services, including premiums, will increase by $1,109, from $14,500 in 2007 to $15,609 in 2008 for an average family of four enrolled in an employer-sponsored PPO.

The study also found that the cost of pharmacy services is expected to increase by 10.6% to $2,302, compared with single-digit increases for physician services, inpatient and outpatient care. Drug spending has slowed the past two years, according to the study. However, this year's increase is a trend that Milliman believes will continue, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In health care, what goes down for a few years, does not necessarily stay down.