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08 December 2017, 03:30 | Randall Craig
US Healthcare Spending Hit $3.3T in 2016
Medicaid expenditures rose 3.9% to $565.5 billion in 2016, accounting for 17% of total national healthcare spending.
Authors of the CMS report said spending growth slowed a year ago for all three major categories of medical goods and services - hospitals, physician/clinical services and retail prescription drugs - for the first time since 2010. In 2015, spending for the sector accelerated 5.8%.
The report noted that USA health spending rose by 5.1 percent in 2014, and then by 5.8 percent in 2015.
The slowdown in health spending growth was seen broadly across all major forms of private and public insurance, and in medical services, prescription drugs and other goods, according to an official analysis released Wednesday.
The overall slowdown was highlighted by the National Health Expenditure report issued by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary.
The increases in health spending share of the economy were attributed to coverage expansion for 8.7 million individuals gaining private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and 10.2 million gaining Medicaid coverage. Physician and clinical servicesPhysician and clinical services spending slowed from a growth rate of 5.9% in 2015 to 5.4% in 2016.
The slower growth in 2016 may indicate a return to a more normal trend with future factors based on economic conditions and shifting demographics, the authors write. Spending growth for clinical services (8.2%) outpaced growth in spending for physician services (4.6%) for the twelfth consecutive year.
In all, payers spent $162.7 billion on care at nursing homes and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), an increase of 2.9% from 2015.
"Over the last decade, the U.S. has experienced unique events that have affected the health care sector, including the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression, major changes to the health care system because of the ACA and historic lows in medical price inflation", said Micah Hartman, a statistician in the Office of the Actuary at CMS and lead author of a Health Affairs article on the results. As a share of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.9 percent. Medicare spending rose 3.6% to $672.1 billion, down from 4.8% growth in 2015, accounting for 20% of total healthcare expenditures. Slower growth was due in part to slower enrollment growth and was partly offset by faster growth in hospital prices, which accelerated slightly from 0.9% in 2015 to 1.2% past year. The slowing was driven by fewer new drugs being introduced and less spending on pricey treatments for hepatitis C.
Medicaid spending growth fell to 3.9 percent from 9.5 percent in 2015 and 11.5 percent in 2014, when growth was driven largely to the initial impact of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Private health insurance reached $1.1 trillion and increased 5.1% in 2016, slower than 6.9% growth in 2015.
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