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Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses ballooning in 2015, study finds

Expenses are climbing by 8 percent this year over last, from $416 billion in 2014 to $608 billion in 2015.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are climbing by 8 percent this year over last, from $416 billion in 2014 to $608 billion in 2015, according to a new report from Kalorama Information.

The increasing number of people on high deductible plans will boost amount paid in direct payments this year by 9.5 percent, according to the report.

Copays and the cost of premiums will also increase, as HMO plans in particular suffer from an exodus of healthy, young employees to low premium, high deductible plans, according to Hewitt Associates.

This leaves a higher proportion of commercial plan participants who have health problems and higher cost of care, the report states.

Also: Revenue cycle hit by rise in high-deductible health plans]

Copayments are expected to grow at 9.5 percent annually, as plans raise copay amounts and subject more products and services to copays.

Premiums are expected to increase by 7.1 percent per year overall. The out-of-pocket expenditures include money spent directly for service; copays for office visits, hospital stays and drug purchases; and on premiums.

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Hospital stays comprise just 1 percent of the average person's out-of-pocket spending, the report states.

Prescription medicine represents the single largest out-of-pocket expense at 43 percent, followed by office-based procedures such as examinations and vaccinations, which represent 26 percent of consumer-borne costs.

Consumers are paying these for expenses in a variety of ways. The main methods are cash, check, credit card, loan or line of credit, money from a flexible spending account or health savings account, and medical financing. 

Twitter: @SusanMorseHFN