Healthcare costs for families top $25,000, triple the cost in 2001

 May 25, 2016 | Cara Livernois
 The costs of care for the average American family has more than tripled since 2001, surpassing $25,000 even as the rate of health cost increases slowed to a record low,  according to the Milliman Medical Index.

The cost of healthcare rose $1,155 over the last year, topping the charts at $25,826 for the typical family of four covered by an employer-sponsored “preferred provider plan,” and triple the $8,414 that it cost to provide healthcare for the same family in 2001. However, the percentage increase in the MMI is at its lowest rate since 2001 at 4.7 percent.

“We seem to be wrestling the curve down to sustainable levels,” wrote Chris Girod, co-author of the Milliman Medical Index. He also called topping the $25,000 mark in healthcare costs “a significant and somewhat unsettling milestone.”

The index analyzed health insurance premiums paid by both the employer and the employee, the actual amount spent for healthcare by the insurance plan and out of pocket costs for the insured family, and concluded that employers pay 57 percent of the total health costs, down from 61 percent in 2001.

Employer-sponsored health insurance coverage is the biggest source of health coverage in the United States, with 155 million employees and their family members covered through job-based plans. 77 million people are covered by Medicaid and another 57 million are covered by Medicare. Another 12 million people are covered by private, individual health plans sold on government-run Obamacare exchanges, several million others are covered by individual plans sold outside of the exchanges

People are paying more for prescription drugs, in fact the rate makes up for 17 percent of total healthcare spending and reached a total of $4,270 per family, which is four times as much as the $1,111 spent in 2001.

“Many people wonder how costs can be so high, especially if they only visit the doctor for preventative visits and occasional routine care,” writes Girod and colleagues. Adding that “the disconnect” may be partly due to the fact that about 80 percent of healthcare costs come from just 20 percent of the population.

The Affordable Care Act was also brought up as a possible factor for the increased rates, but was found not to have impacted the increase. Scott Weltz, another co-author of the index,  said “we really haven’t seen much of an impact here, it’s not clear whether Obamacare played a role in the slowing of the rate of cost increases in the past five years or so that has been observed.”