Medical spending in Minnesota rebounded in 2021


Medical spending in Minnesota returned to a pre-pandemic trajectory in 2021, when a 12% improve in funds for surgical procedures, clinic visits, prescriptions and different providers offset the two% decline in 2020.

COVID-19 waves in 2021 might have elevated medical spending, however Wednesday’s report from MN Neighborhood Measurement principally recommended that individuals sought typical types of care that they delay in 2020.

Spending development in well being care additionally exceeded wage development for many Minnesotans, mentioned Julie Sonier, president of MN Neighborhood Measurement, a nonprofit group that publishes well being care high quality and price information.

“We’re nonetheless on a long-term path that is not actually sustainable,” she mentioned. “We’ve got not but discovered the magic bullet for value containment.”

The report is predicated on quantities paid out of pocket by greater than 1 million non-elderly Minnesotans and by their personal medical insurance plans. These sources mixed to spend $8,244 per affected person per yr on medical providers — a determine closely influenced by outlier sufferers with persistent illnesses and the best prices.

That compares to $7,332 per affected person in 2020, and $5,904 in 2014, when the info was first publicly reported. The info is supplied by 4 of the state’s largest well being insurers: Blue Cross and Blue Protect of Minnesota, Medica, HealthPartners and PreferredOne.

The report is also a reminder that inpatient hospital care can prices tens of 1000’s for Minnesotans who want it, however different sources of medical care drive whole spending.

“For individuals who do want it, it’s totally costly,” Sonier mentioned, “however not many people get hospitalized in a given yr.”

When unfold throughout all non-elderly Minnesotans with personal insurance coverage, annual spending on inpatient hospital providers amounted to $1,176 per individual in 2021. Annual spending by comparability reached $1,512 per individual on prescribed drugs and pharmacy providers and $3,612 per individual on surgeons, major care docs and different clinicians.

Danger-adjusted spending assorted by area, exceeding $10,000 per yr for Rochester residents who have been extra prone to obtain care in a southeast Minnesota market dominated by Mayo Clinic.

Minneapolis residents used extra medical care on common, however spent barely much less, Sonier mentioned, in all probability as a result of competitors within the Twin Cities medical market drives down costs. St. Cloud residents had even decrease annual spending, however principally as a result of they have been much less prone to search medical care in 2021.

Non-elective surgical procedures have been suspended beneath a state emergency order throughout Minnesota’s first COVID-19 wave in spring 2020, and plenty of suppliers canceled them later that winter when a extra extreme wave hit the state. Some sufferers stayed away from hospitals and clinics because of COVID-19 fears in 2020, however might have had much less alternative in 2021 when unmanaged diabetes or painful knees demanded care.

How that interprets into medical spending in 2022 is unclear. Allina Well being and Fairview Well being, two of Minnesota’s largest medical suppliers, reported improved revenues in 2021 however worsening monetary issues in 2022. Their hospitals particularly misplaced cash when staffing shortages prevented them from discharging recovering sufferers to nursing properties and liberating up beds for brand spanking new sufferers.

Minnesota’s efforts to rein in prices have centered on value-based contracts by which insurers pay for the standard of affected person care relatively than the quantity of it. Decrease-cost telemedicine additionally has been proposed as a strategy to scale back costlier in-person clinic visits, however its widespread use in 2021 did not have a lot of an affect.

Clinicians are nonetheless determining when telemedicine can substitute in-person visits and which specialties, equivalent to psychological well being, provide probably the most potential, Sonier mentioned.

“The jury continues to be out on the long-term developments there and the place it is going to provide probably the most worth,” she mentioned

MN Neighborhood Measurement assigned sufferers to major care clinics primarily based on the place they obtained most of their care in 2021. Clinics might be in contrast by the risk-adjusted prices of these sufferers — with the concept being that environment friendly clinics helped sufferers keep in higher well being and keep away from preventable expenditures.


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