While the era of dou­ble-digit growth in health­care costs seems to have ended, the “new nor­mal” pace of around 6% to 7% a year is still un­sus­tain­able, ac­cord­ing to the Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers Health Re­search In­sti­tute,

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which pro­jected that med­i­cal costs in 2018 will in­crease by 6.5% from 2017. While the med­i­cal cost trend has de­clined from 11.9% in 2007, it will still out­pace eco­nomic growth, which means em­ploy­ers, providers and in­sur­ers must work to­gether to re­duce costs over time, the study found. HRI’s anal­y­sis mea­sures an­tic­i­pated spend­ing growth in the em­ployer-based mar­ket, which cov­ers about half of all Amer­i­cans. The study did not fac­tor in changes to gov­ern­ment pay­ers and Af­ford­able Care Act ex­changes. It at­trib­uted in­creas­ing med­i­cal costs to ris­ing gen­eral in­fla­tion, fewer em­ploy­ers turn­ing to high-de­ductible health plans and fewer branded drugs com­ing off patent. In­creased scru­tiny on drug prices and bet­ter tech­niques for man­ag­ing and de­ploy­ing new treat­ments and tech­nolo­gies will pre­vent health­care costs from re­turn­ing to dou­ble-digit rates.

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