Average annual medical spending is up 7.4% for a benchmark group preferred provider organization plan participant this year.

Researchers at Milliman Inc., Seattle, have published that figure in a summary of results from a carrier survey and analysis of data from other sources.

The researchers base the “Milliman Medical Index” on spending figures for a typical U.S. group PPO plan member with a spouse and two children.

That typical family if four will spend about $16,771 on medical expenses this year, up from $15,609 in 2008, the Milliman researchers report.

Hospital outpatient care appears to be the only major component that increased more than 10% this year. Outpatient care makes up only 17% of total health care expending, but it is accounting for a growing share of spending, while physician services costs have been increasing more slowly than other health care costs in recent years, according to Milliman figures.

The overall increase in medical costs is down from 7.6% in 2008, but the amount deducted from a typical employee’s paycheck to cover the cost of coverage has increased about 15% this year, up from about 10% in 2008, the researchers report.
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described what the Milliman Medical Index figures measure incorrectly. The index program measures medical cost trends for the current year.