Health insurance increased 4 percent in third quarter 2011

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The cost of health care increased 4 percent in the third quarter of 2011 from the previous year, at least for people with employer-sponsored health insurance.

The news come from the Thomson Reuters Healthcare Spending Index for Private Insurers, and also shows a .9 percent increase over the second quarter of 2011.

The index tracks key health care spending components – hospital care, physician services and prescription drugs. Hospital costs again showed the steepest growth through the third quarter, increasing 5.9 percent annually and 1.3 percent over the previous quarter. Physician costs reflected a 2.9 percent year-over-year hike and drug costs increased 1.3 percent. Both figures also reflect increases over their marks for the second quarter of 2011.

“Insurance costs are still on the rise,” said Gary Pickens, chief research officer at Thomson Reuters Center for Healthcare Analytics. “While there has been a light slow down due to the pace of growth, overall rates are still increasing nationwide.”