Patent cliff a drag on 2012 health spend

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Few employers contain specialty Rx costs: study
Few employers contain specialty Rx costs: study

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has tabulated the 2012 healthcare spend, and the results match up with patent-cliff-battered stock portfolios: generics accounted for 75% of prescriptions in 2012, compared to 69.7% in 2011, yet consumers spent 0.4% more on prescriptions in 2012 than they did in 2011.

The overall healthcare picture is less dramatic. CMS found that Americans spent 3.7% more on healthcare in 2012 than 2011, which is in line with the 3.6% to 3.8% increases seen since 2009, when the recession was officially up and running. (Note to those still seeking financial footing: the National Bureau of Economic Research says the recession ended in 2010, and the Census Bureau says 33% of Americans were poor for at least two months between 2009 and 2011).

While Americans did not spend the bulk of their money on prescriptions, they did spend more on physician and clinical services, which rose 4.6% in 2012. Not only did more patients seek help, the services they needed were more intense, which helped drive the increase, a data point of note because this was not just a matter of seeking out pricier treatment. Medical prices rose 1.7% in 2012, compared to 2011 when they jumped 2.4%. For context: medical price increases accounted for just over 1.5% of the reason the healthcare spend rose in 2012, whereas in 2011 these price increases accounted for 80% of the jump.

CMS found that households took the brunt of healthcare costs, covering about 28% of the year's $2.8 trillion spend, followed by federal government and businesses. CMS says 28% has been the going number since 2010, and is the biggest home expenditure. The category includes money put out for co-pays, deductibles and services insurance won't cover.

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