New treatments, new technology, provider consolidation and increased demand for medical care may be responsible for about 4.3 percentage points of the 8.8% increase in health coverage rates between 2004 and 2005.
Researchers at PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York, have published figures supporting that conclusion in a study sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington.
Many media reports discuss the effects of cost-shifting, the aging of the U.S. population, and lifestyle problems such as smoking and obesity on health costs, but they appear to be responsible for a total of just 1.3 percentage points of the 2004-2005 increase, the researchers report.
Defensive medicine accounted for 0.8 percentage points of the cost increase, the researchers report.
The researchers attributed the rest of the increase to general inflation.