Census Data Show Uptick in U.S. Health Care Spending Growth
U.S. health care spending in 2014 appears to have broken a five-year run of historically slow spending growth, according to an Altarum Institute analysis of Census Bureau data, Bloomberg Business reports.
Health spending increased by more than 6% annually prior to the most-recent recession, which ended in 2009 (Tozzi, Bloomberg Business, 3/11). From 2009 to 2013, health spending grew by less than 4% each year.
However, the new data show health care spending grew at a 5.4% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2014 (Herman, Modern Healthcare, 3/11). Over the full year, health care spending grew by 5%, according to the Altarum Center for Sustainable Health Spending Director Charles Roehrig (Bloomberg Business, 3/11).
Compared with the fourth quarter of 2013, Q4 2014 spending grew by:
- 8.2% for outpatient centers;
- 5.9% for hospitals;
- 4.9% for ambulatory services; and
- 3.2% for physician offices (Modern Healthcare, 3/11).
According to Bloomberg Business, some of that factors that could be influencing the uptick include:
- Job growth;
- Fast prescription drug cost growth; and
- An increase the number of insured U.S. residents following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Roehrig predicted that spending eventually will stabilize, but not until health care accounts for about 25% of the U.S. economy. According to the federal government, health care spending made up 17.4% of the economy in the last four years for which it has complete data (Bloomberg Business, 3/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.