Health care prices in January 2013 were 1.5 percent higher than in January 2012, the lowest reading since a 1.3 percent rate in December 1997. The 12-month moving average at 2 percent is also the lowest since a 1.9 percent figure recorded in November 1998, new analysis finds.
National health expenditures in January 2013 grew at an annual rate of 4.1 percent relative to January 2012, the same rate as for December—a level that would signify the fifth consecutive year of moderate spending growth, according to Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending.
Health care employment rose by 32,000 jobs in February 2013, surpassing the 24-month average of 24,000, but January was revised down to 13,000 from its originally reported figure of 23,000, the report said.
“It appears that a less than full-employment economy coupled with pressures specific to the health care industry are combining to forcefully restrain health care price growth,” Charles Roehrig, director of the center, said in a statement. “The last time we saw health care prices rising so slowly was back in the ‘golden era’ of managed care in the mid- to late-1990s. Low health care spending growth continues to follow this longer-term pattern of exceptionally controlled price growth coupled with moderate utilization growth.”