IMS Health also found that the number of physician office visits, hospitalizations and prescriptions filled all rose last year.
At the doctor’s office, visits to primary care physicians fell less than 1 percent, but trips to specialists jumped 5 percent. The number of hospital visits also grew last year, primarily among commercially insured patients who received outpatient treatment.
Any upswing in medical costs could further squeeze workers. Their health insurance premiums keep taking a bigger bite of their paychecks, as employers shift more health care costs to employees.
There was some good news for consumers. The IMS report found that 57 percent of all retail prescriptions filled last year cost consumers $5 or less. But patients often bear a growing share of the cost for high-priced specialty medications for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic conditions.
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