It may seem logical to assume that employee health care costs and out-of-pocket spending has been on the rise for some time. And that was the case according to an Employee Benefit Research Institute analysis entitled Recent Trends in Patient out-of-Pocket Cost Sharing, which showed out-of-pocket costs by patients with employer-sponsored health plans increased 10% from 2013 before the pandemic.

Out-of-pocket expenditures for outpatient services also grew faster between 2013 to 2019 ($470 to $631) than expenditures for inpatient services ($109 to $127). After the pandemic hit, something interesting started to occur. According to estimates produced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), out-of-pocket spending on health care comprises 9.9% of total national health expenditures, decreasing from 11.3% in 2019. The report says that this continues a decades-long steady decline in the share of total health care spending paid out of pocket and represents an all-time low since CMS started tracking this data.

Why?

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