Oregon health care costs outpacing income, wages

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Oregonians saw their health care costs rise nearly 50% per person across insurance markets between 2013-2019, the Oregon Health Authority announced Tuesday. 

The rising costs of professional services and prescription drugs were seen as the main drivers.

While health care costs per Oregonian went up 49%, the per-person income only rose 31.5% and the average wages increased 21.6%.

“The effects of rising health costs have a direct impact on the well-being of people, families and our communities,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen in a statement. “When health care costs grow faster than income and the cost of living, they squeeze the budgets of families and businesses and reduce access to care.”

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Here are some topline numbers from OHA:

  • Per person pharmacy costs: Up 116%
  • Medicare costs per person: Up 58%
  • Commercial market costs per person: Up 45%
  • Medicaid costs per person: Up 32%
  • Inpatient service costs per person up 22%
  • For people with commercial, employer-sponsored health insurance, the cost of the annual deductible and insurance premiums combined in 2019 was 10.1% of median income.

Here are more specifics from the OHA statement about the rising pharmacy and professional services costs.

  • In the commercial market, professional services contributed the most to overall cost growth between 2013 and 2019. Pharmacy, emergency department, professional services and outpatient services grew by more than 60% from 2013 to 2019, with pharmacy costs growing the most at 93%. 
  • In the Medicare market, pharmacy costs grew by 185% from 2013 to 2019, far outpacing any other service category in any of the three markets. Pharmacy costs were the main driver of Medicare cost growth in this time period, increasing from $794 to $2,261 per person. 
  • In the Medicaid market, professional services and pharmacy contributed the most to overall cost growth between 2013 and 2019. The Medicaid market saw less growth across service categories compared to the commercial market. Service categories in the Medicaid market also had lower per person costs, with the exception of inpatient services. 

Read the full report here.


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