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Signs of a Slowdown in Health Care Spending

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Biowatch Member Level  Friday, 05/04/12 10:37:23 PM
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Signs of a Slowdown in Health Care Spending
Thursday, May 3, 2012 - 10:06 a.m.
There are signs that health care spending growth has slowed down in the last few years. Diane and her panel of experts look at what higher deductibles, a move away from fee-for-service plans and other changes could mean for future health care costs...

In Hopeful Sign, Health Spending Is Flattening Out
WASHINGTON — The growth of health spending has slowed substantially in the last few years, surprising experts and offering some fuel for optimism about the federal government’s long-term fiscal performance.

Much of the slowdown is because of the recession, and thus not unexpected, health experts say. But some of it seems to be attributable to changing behavior by consumers and providers of health care — meaning that the lower rates of growth might persist even as the economy picks up.

Because Medicare and Medicaid are two of the largest contributors to the country’s long-term debts, slower growth in health costs could reduce the pressure for enormous spending cuts or tax increases.

In 2009 and 2010, total nationwide health care spending grew less than 4 percent per year, the slowest annual pace in more than five decades, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. After years of taking up a growing share of economic activity, health spending held steady in 2010, at 17.9 percent of the gross domestic product.

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