Health Spending Growth Slows During Recession, According to Analysis
Spending by U.S. residents on health care services during the first half of 2010 grew at its slowest rate in 50 years, indicating that individuals are forgoing medical care during the economic recession, according to a USA Today analysis, USA Today reports.
In the first half of 2010, medical care spending increased at a 2.7% annual rate per person, which is the smallest increase since the Bureau of Economic Analysis began tracking medical care in 1959, the analysis found.
Considering inflation, spending per person decreased by 0.2%, the first decline since the government began adjusting for inflation in 1995, according to the analysis.
The analysis also found that U.S. residents this year:
- Spent 1.6% less per person for prescription drugs after adjusting for inflation;
- Spent 1.1% less on hospital care; and
- Spent 0.9% less on services from dentists and orthodontists.
In addition, government health care programs -- including Medicaid and Medicare -- covered 46.1% of total medical costs in the second quarter of 2010, up from 42.3% prior to the start of the recession in December 2007.
Health care experts say the drop in spending was not forecasted by government analysts and appears to be the result of the faltering economy and high unemployment rates.
The spending stall differs from the situation during the last recession in 2001 when health care costs increased (Cauchon, USA Today, 9/2).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.