Anyone who pays for their own individual health insurance policy knows that premiums go up every year. And nearly everyone who gets their health insurance from an employer-sponsored plan is aware that costs increase in some form nearly every year (via higher copays and deductibles, a switch to an HSA-qualified high deductible plan, or an increase in the premiums that are payroll deducted). Some employers manage to shoulder the brunt of the health insurance premium hikes from one year to the next, which means that employees with group health insurance probably aren’t as aware of the rapidly-rising healthcare costs as their self-employed counterparts (or, increasingly, people who aren’t self employed but have to find health insurance in the individual market because their employers can no longer afford to offer group coverage). But no matter how you get your health insurance, you’re likely aware that premiums are a lot higher than they were five or ten years ago. And of course, that’s a direct result of healthcare costs that are much higher than they were five or ten years ago.
This RAND Corporation infographic paints a pretty clear picture of how healthcare costs have increased over the past decade (specifically, the data refers to 1999 – 2009). Healthcare spending nearly doubled in that time frame, from $1.3 trillion to $2.5 trillion, but the second graphic shows how our complicated method of paying for healthcare makes it harder for the average family to see how their own healthcare costs have been impacted. The last graphic in the series shows what the average family could have done with the extra $2880 they would have had in 2009 if healthcare costs had grown during the 2000′s at the same rate they did in the 1990′s (GDP + 1%). Given how cash-strapped a lot of families have been for the past few years, I’m sure an extra three grand could have made a big difference.
In case you missed this post from Maggie Mahar about current trends in healthcare spending, it’s a worthwhile read. Her conclusion is that it’s just too soon to tell whether we’ve started to really get healthcare spending under control. Let’s hope so. Otherwise, the infographic another decade from now will be a sad picture indeed.