Health spending growth remains low

Health spending grew only 3.8 percent in May, continuing a trend of roughly 4 percent annual growth since 2009, according to a new report. That’s down from 4.2 percent in April, and about as low a growth rate as the country’s seen in the last 15 years.

The data come from the July Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs released by Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

On a 12-month moving average basis, price growth is lower now than at any time since January 1999.

A rise in June of only 13,000 health sector jobs aligns with slow price and spending growth. This increase contrasts sharply with the May growth in health care employment of 33,000 and is well below the 24-month average of 25,000, the report says. With a disappointing total payroll job growth of only 80,000 in June, the health care share of total employment reached another all-time high of 10.8 percent, representing nearly one in nine U.S. jobs.

“Our analysis continues to show stable health spending growth hovering around the 4 percent mark, and this 3½-year trend is entirely unprecedented,” says Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum Center for Sustainable Health Spending. “As a result, health spending as a share of GDP has held steady at about 18 percent over this same period and, were it not for disappointing GDP growth, could actually be falling.”

Total health care expenditures have stabilized at around 18 percent of the economy since 2009.



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