Key findings

What prevents a return to double-digit health spending increases in 2015?

Doctors and hospitals are adopting standardized processes that offer the prospect of better value for our health dollar. At the same time, consumers are starting to price-shop for health services and put new demands on the delivery of care. Over one-quarter of employers have a high-deductible health plan as their highest enrolled medical plan in 2014—the highest percentage ever. With more individuals making healthcare purchasing decisions, value and price are the new mantra.

Average deductibles for visits is increasing

Four factors “inflate" medical cost trend in 2015:

  • Economic upswing
  • Development of new, high-cost specialty drugs
  • Physician employment by hospitals raises prices
  • Information technology integration challenges

Three factors “deflate" medical cost trend in 2015:

  • Systemness – standardizing care across disparate parts
  • Healthcare shopping – rise of price transparency
  • Risk-based payment system promotes fiscal responsibility

HRI issues its projection for the coming year’s spending growth based on activity in the market that serves employer-based insurance—a projection that has become a key ingredient in setting insurance premiums for the past decade. In compiling data for 2015, HRI interviewed industry executives, health policy experts, and health plan actuaries whose companies cover a combined 93 million members. HRI also analyzed results from PwC’s 2014 Touchstone Survey of more than 1,000 employers from 35 industries.