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Blame Season in the Healthcare Sector

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 3, 2012

It's blame season in the healthcare sector.

As millions of American consumers re-enroll for healthcare coverage in 2013 and grimace over interminably rising costs, provider associations, retailers, drug makers, and health plans are trying their best to deflect responsibility onto one another.

By various estimates, the nation's workers may receive compensation increases averaging between 2% and 3% in 2013. However, health insurance costs are projected to increase by 5% –6%.

Although that is the lowest increase in premiums in six years, it's a decades-long trend, and rising healthcare costs have been blamed as a key factor in wage stagnation. As the discontent among consumers grows, the major players in the healthcare sector have become increasingly adept at making sure they don't get pegged as the bad guys.

The Express Scripts 2012 Q3 Drug Trend Quarterly issued last week stated that prices in a market basket of the most highly used brand-name medications increased 13.3% over the year ending September 2012, far outpacing the 2% inflation in the larger economy. At the same time, generic drug prices fell 21.9%. Express Scripts says the 35.2% point net inflationary effect is the largest widening of brand and generic prices since it began tracking in 2008.

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