A new study published by the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) could proffer a formidable challenge to the Obama administration’s regulated approach to tapering healthcare costs, as the analysis found that healthcare spending is growing moderately, up 3.3 percent in 2010 but still three times the pace of general price inflation.

The HHCI examined four of the country’s largest health insurers — Humana, Aetna, United Healthcare, and Kaiser Permanente — which provided a catalog of records that address healthcare spending among Americans under age 65. The study reviewed three billion claims for individuals with employer-sponsored insurance in a one-year period.

Surprisingly, the spending hike was not attributed to an increase in unnecessary procedures and treatments; instead, the increased costs were spurred by the medical services themselves — including professional procedures, prescription drugs, and inpatient and outpatient facilities — becoming more expensive. “People weren’t getting more care, but people [were] paying more for it,” assertedHCCI Chairman Martin Gaynor.

The HHCI is a new independent organization dedicated to “creating the nation’s most comprehensive source of information on health care costs and utilization, and promoting research on the drivers of escalating health care costs and utilization in the U.S.” The group’s new project reportedly compiles one of the most comprehensive sets of data ever amassed on healthcare spending by individuals with private insurance.

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