Chicago health care costs are 3rd-highest in U.S., according to study

  • By Alex Parker
  • Staff Writer
  • June 03, 2009 @ 2:21 PM

Families in Chicago spent the third-highest amount of money on health care in the country, according to a new report. The Milliman Medical Index, released last month, looks at medical costs for "a typical family of four" covered by employer PPO insurance plans.

The study found the average cost for a family is $16,700, an increase of 7.4 percent from 2008. In Chicago, the average yearly cost for a family a 13 percent higher than the national average, coming in at $19,008. The cost includes the price of having the insurance, as well as the cost of deductibles and co-pays.

Lorraine Mayne, one of the authors of the study, says the cost of health care, while increasing, has increased at a smaller rate for three straight years, and this year's hike is the lowest she has seen since Seattle-based Milliman began conducting the study five years ago.

"We saw that charges accounted for more of the increase this year than utilization did," she says. "We also saw that employees, as compared to employers, are bearing a large portion of the cost increase, which isn't surprising in the current economic environment."

The study looked at 14 cities across the United States to illustrate the range of costs. Miami was the country's most expensive city, costing families more than $20,000, 21 percent higher than the national average. Chicago sits behind New York, which has a rate 17 percent higher than the average. Phoenix had the lowest cost, at $14,857, almost 13 percent below the average.

In Chicago, Mayne says, has actually gotten cheaper since last year. The cost of health care here dropped 2 percent.

But it still remains in the upper echelon of price for a number of reasons, Mayne says. One reason is that more people in Chicago go to the hospital for  medical care, instead of seeing a primary care doctor.

"The Chicago area happens to have higher (hospital) utilization than the national average, and that actually accounts for more of the difference in the higher cost," she says.

Daily News Staff Writer Alex Parker covers public health. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 17, or alex [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.


GARY LINDA, 06-04-2009

It's so sad and true about chronic patients not being able to afford healthcare. I did some research online and stumble across a new search engine that finds generic prescriptions within your ZIP code. It's called Medtipster. I volunteer at a local community rec place and often hear stories from elders about skipping dosages and choosing grocery over medications. I started referring Medtipster to my friends and some of them have saved money and time from the website