Spending for Employer-Sponsored Coverage Grew 4.4% in 2018

In 2018, health spending for the 160 million Americans insured by employer-sponsored health plans grew 4.4% per capita, according to the Health Care Cost Institute’s annual spending report, which is based on claims data from four large insurers. This increase marks the third consecutive year of increases above 4%.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary reported similar findings: Per capita spending increased for all Americans, including those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, rising 4% in 2018, compared with 3.5% in 2017. Per member spending increased 6.7% for those on employer-sponsored plans, 4.2% for Medicare, and 2% for Medicaid.

The report also found that patient out-of-pocket spending increased 14.5% between 2014 and 2018, less than the total increase in health spending during the same period (18.4%). This reflects the growth in the number of people enrolled in high-deductible health plans, which rose from 25.8% in 2014 to 33.5% in 2018.

“I don’t think 18% over 5 years is moderate. The average American hasn’t seen that big an increase in their take-home pay,” said Niall Brennan, MPP, CEO of the Health Care Cost Institute. “This is the third consecutive year of growth in excess of 4%. You put those years together and you quickly end up with significant increases in cost.”