Middle class healthcare spending rose 24% between 2007 and 2013

The Wall Street Journal released sobering analysis of basic spending by the American middle class this week based on consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The report puts into stark relief the rising role of consumerism in healthcare delivery: Healthcare spending was up 24% and income rose a mere half percentage point.

Source of the data were the 14,000 households that agree to either keep diaries for two weeks or provide quarterly interviews. The WSJ analysis was based on spending by households earning between $18,000 and $95,000 per year.

Total spending for this cohort increased ~2.6% during the period under study, during which inflation amounted to 12%, and income rose less than half a percent. Other categories that experienced sharp increases were home internet (81.3%), cellular phones (49.1%) and rent (26%).

The analysis linked increases in spending on healthcare and other categories to declines in spending on women’s apparel (-17.7%), home ownership (-11.5%), entertainment (-5.4%), furniture (3.8%) and dining out (3.8%).

According to separate data from CMS, the overall cost of healthcare during the period rose 21%; the WSJ report also cites data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which pegged the average monthly employee contribution to their family’s healthcare at $380, up 39% since 2007.