Data show a return to pre-2020 trends in medical service use and spending, out-of-pocket spending increased by $100 per person in 2021

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — A new report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) shows that health care spending and utilization rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 after declines in 2020 that occurred with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as COVID continued through 2021, with hundreds of thousands of individuals hospitalized and otherwise affected, dramatic declines in use and spending that occurred in the early months of the pandemic appeared to have been short lived. Data in HCCI’s annual Health Care Cost and Utilization Report (HCCUR) illustrate that, although the total amount spent on health care decreased by $204 in 2020, the decline was offset by the above average spending increase of $837 in 2021. The fluctuations in spending were driven by utilization changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In 2021, we see a full rebound in per person health care spending – an apparent continuation of pre-pandemic trends,” said Katie Martin, President and CEO of HCCI. “While we see the continued effects of COVID, it seems the pandemic’s disruption of historical health care spending will not have a lasting effect and that the work to rein in high and growing health care costs continues.”

Other key findings of the HCCUR include:

  • Prices increased every year from 2017 to 2021. Average prices were 13.9% higher in 2021 than they were in 2017.
  • The use of telehealth continued to increase in 2021 after its dramatic rise in 2020.
  • Average out-of-pocket spending increased by more than 13% or $100 from 2020 to 2021, returning to pre-pandemic levels.
  • There was growth in spending on several services that are likely related, at least in part, to care associated with COVID-19, including respiratory hospital admissions, lab tests, and vaccines.

The HCCUR examines year-over-year and 5-year cumulative trends in health care spending for individuals with employer-sponsored insurance, segmented by health care service category. The findings in HCCUR are powered by HCCI data which holds claims data for more than 50 million commercially insured individuals. All data was weighted to reflect the age, gender and geographic mix of the employer-sponsored insurance population. The full report can be accessed here.

About Health Care Cost Institute

The Health Care Cost Institute is a mission-driven, non-profit at the nexus of data, analytics, and action. HCCI was founded in 2011 to leverage unique, high-quality data and extraordinary expertise in research and policy to give decision makers the tools they need to lower health care costs and increase value in the health care system. To learn more about HCCI, visit

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SOURCE Health Care Cost Institute