The data shows a dramatic decline in medical service utilization, lower out-of-pocket spending, but an increase in prescription drug spending

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A new report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) shows how the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way Americans interacted with the healthcare system. Although hundreds of thousands of people were hospitalized with the deadly virus in 2020, utilization of medical services, including inpatient, outpatient and professional services, fell for the first time since HCCI reported spending trends.

Dates in HCCI yearbook Healthcare Cost and Utilization Report (HCCUR) show that although health care utilization and overall health care spending decreased in 2020, spending in 2020 was still 9% higher compared to 2016, with the largest growth in prescription spending medication was recorded.

“COVID-19 was a shock to the health system in many ways and dramatically changed the way people used health services in the early months of the pandemic,” he said Kate Martin, President and CEO of HCCI. “After 12 consecutive years of increasing health care spending, HCCI data shows a decrease in spending in 2020. The decrease in spending was caused by people using fewer health services.”

Other important results of the HCCUR are:

  • Compared to 2019, spending fell in all categories except prescription drugs, which increased nearly 6%.
  • Telemedicine usage has increased more than 100-fold from 2016 to 2020, and telemedicine spending has increased 250-fold.
  • Average self-spend fell by more than 10% from 2019 to 2020 and was even 4% lower than in 2016.

The HCCUR examines annual and 5-year cumulative trends in healthcare spending for individuals with employer-sponsored insurance, segmented by healthcare service category. The results in HCCUR are based on HCCI data, which includes claims data for approximately 55 million commercial insured individuals. All data were weighted to reflect age, gender, and geographic composition of the employer-sponsored insurance population. The full report can be accessed here.

About Health Care Cost Institute

The mission of the Health Care Cost Institute is to get to the bottom of the top issues impacting the US healthcare system – by using the best data to get the best answers. HCCI represents truth and consensus on key healthcare trends, particularly the economic issues critical to a sustainable, high-performing healthcare system. To learn more about HCCI, visit

SOURCE Health Care Cost Institute


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