Healthcare Spending Growth Sluggish Since 2007, Feds Report

Healthcare spending has experienced only modest growth since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, and that trend continues well into 2012, a new report has found.

As an analysis by the Altarum Institute discovered that over the past year spending for hospitals (3.8 percent) and prescriptions (4.0 percent) led all healthcare categories. Only spending for nursing homes declined in that same period, falling .3 percent. According to the report, that trend appears to be continuing into 2013.

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The analysis also found that healthcare spending in July grew at a slower rate than GDP (national growth domestic product), which reverses a trend during the recession where healthcare spending far outpaced GDP. The GDP decreased during the recession and only in July did it reach pre-recession levels; healthcare spending has steadily increased approximately 2.4 percent per year.

The Altarum report counters earlier reports that healthcare costs were on the rise, such as a recent report from the Health Care Cost Institute. “That report showed expenses for those with employer-sponsored insurance rose 3.8 percent in 2010 and 4.6 percent in 2011,” wrote Citigroup’s Peter Orszag for Bloomberg. “This modest change was initially described as a ‘surge.’ Yet by historical standards even 4.6 percent growth is very low — and one shouldn’t make too much of a 0.8 percentage-point change from one year to the next.”

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