NU Online News Service, Oct. 25, 3:20 p.m. – The rapid proliferation of new medical technology and rising hospital consolidations are leading causes of recent double-digit health care cost increases, says the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago.

Recent research by BCBSA into the causes of fast-rising health care costs found that of all the key market forces forcing up these costs, 79% are wrapped up in hospital and physician expenses, while pharmaceuticals make up about 21%. The association concludes that inpatient hospital expenditures are outstripping pharmaceutical outlays as a primary reason for healthcare inflation.

BCBSA’s research also shows that 34% of the increase in these costs from 1998 through 2001 is due to inpatient hospital costs, while 19% of both inpatient and outpatient costs are directly caused by the use and deployment of medical technology.