8 Areas of "Hidden" National Health Expenses

In 2010, CMS estimated national healthcare expenditures consumed 17.9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, or $2.6 trillion. In 2011, that figure rose to $2.7 trillion. However, according to a recent report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, those figures are missing $621 billion in "hidden healthcare costs."

Deloitte's study looked at CMS' national healthcare expenditures data from 2010. The authors wrote that, "of note, [CMS] does not capture, or only partially captures, other health-related spending" outside the common areas of hospital care, professional services, prescription drugs, administrative costs, retail services and long-term care.

Deloitte analysts defined the "other health-related spending" as complementary and alternative medicine costs, nutrition costs and supervisory care costs. Supervisory care — which is unpaid care at home provided by a family member or friend to someone limited in capacity to self-care due to illness, advancing years or disability — represented $492 billion of the "hidden" costs in 2010, according to the report.

Here are the healthcare costs in 2010 associated with sources other than those in official national healthcare expenditure estimates, according to Deloitte's report.

•    Supervisory care: $492 billion
•    Nutrition/supplements: $56 billion
•    Complementary and alternative medicine costs: $31 billion
•    Other direct ambulatory costs: $19 billion
•    Long-term care homes for the elderly (beyond nursing and home health care): $17 billion
•    Weight-reducing centers: $2 billion
•    Complementary and alternative medicine products: $2 billion
•    Health publications: $2 billion

Total: $621 billion, bringing total national healthcare expenditures estimates to more than $3.21 billion in 2010.

More Articles on Healthcare Costs:

National Health Spending Growth Stays Below 4% for 6th Straight Month

Straight Talk on Medicare: A Go-To Guide for Hospital Executives

CMS: National Health Spending Grows 3.9% in 2011

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