According to the indices S&P tracks, professional services care costs continued to outpace hospital costs. "Comparing the 12-months-to-October with the 12-months-to-September, the Hospital Medicare Index showed the most moderation in costs, up 3.33% versus 3.96% reported for September, while the Professional Services Medicare Index showed the slightest decrease in the growth of expenditures, up 5.13% versus 5.41% in September," Blitzer said. "Both the Hospital and Professional Services Commercial Indices' annual rates decelerated by about 0.3% in October."
The statistics are based on the S&P Healthcare Economic Indices that estimate the per capita change in revenue each month by hospitals and professional service organizations for healthcare services delivered to patients covered by Medicare and commercial health insurance plans. Annual growth rates are calculated with the percent change in monthly index levels based on a 12-month moving average.
Based on recent trends, S&P expects healthcare costs to continue their significant month-to-month variations well into the future, according to Blitzer. "Looking over recent years, there are periods when the increases moderate as well as times when increases accelerate."