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Name brand drugs drive rising health care costs

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National health care costs grew 6.5% in 2015, driven by steep increases in the cost of brand-name drugs, according to a report published Monday by S&P Global.

To compare, total health care costs grew 4.3% in 2014, according to the report.

Drug costs in 2015 increased by 15.8% overall, compared with 12.6% in 2014, Washington-based S&P said in the report.

Brand-name drug costs soared 19.2% in 2015, compared with 13.2% last year.

By contrast, generic drug costs increased 6.6% in 2015, compared with an increase of 11.0% in 2014.

Medical services costs increased by 4.3% in 2015, while medical services grew only 2.6% the year before.

Monthly costs per covered member in the employer-sponsored insurance market grew 4.6% to $485.77 as of December 2015, up from $464.32.

Health costs in the individual market trumped those in the employer-sponsored market as per member per month costs hit $525.33 at the end of 2015, up 15.5% from $454.71.

John Rother, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care and executive director of the Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing, responded to the S&P report in a statement Monday: “Annual prescription price hikes are driving the overall increase in health care costs and making health care less affordable for Americans. Today's S&P report confirms what we've been saying — these increases in drug cost are unsustainable — and solutions to promote transparency, increase competition, and focus on value must be advanced.”