National health spending hits $3.2T in 2015

National health spending in the U.S. hit $3.2 trillion in 2015, or $9,990 per person, according to an analysis from CMS' Office of the Actuary published Friday in Health Affairs.

Spending in this category grew at a faster clip than years prior, growing at a rate of 5.8 percent in 2015 compared to 5.3 percent in 2014, according to the report. The authors largely attribute this accelerated growth in healthcare spending — which comes after a period of historically low growth from 2009 to 2013 — to coverage expansions under the ACA.

"Over the last 55 years, the largest increases in health spending's share of the U.S. economy have typically occurred around periods of economic recession," Anne Martin, an economist in the CMS Office of the Actuary and first author of the report, said in a statement. "While the 2014 and 2015 increases occurred more than five years after the nation's last recession ended, they coincided with 9.7 million individuals gaining private health insurance coverage and 10.3 million more people enrolling in Medicaid coverage. An additional contributing factor is the rapid growth in retail prescription drug spending."

After private health insurance, hospital spending was the second-biggest ticket item on the national healthcare bill. Growth in this sector was attributed to greater utilization in services. The number of inpatient days increased 1.8 percent in 2015 and hospital discharges increased 1.2 percent. However, hospital price growth was down to 0.9 percent in 2015, from 1.3 percent in 2014. This is the slowest hospital price growth rate since 1998, according to the report.

Here is a breakdown of total expenditures and their growth rates in 2015.

  • Private health insurance spending: $1.1 trillion (7.2 percent growth over 2014)
  • Hospital spending: $1 trillion (5.6 percent)
  • Medicare spending: $642.2 billion (4.5 percent growth)
  • Physician and clinical services: $634.9 billion (6.3 percent growth)
  • Medicaid expenditures: $545.1 billion (9.7 percent growth)
  • Retail prescription drugs: $324.6 billion (9 percent growth)

Health spending accounted for 17.8 percent of GDP in 2015, and this share is expected to increase over the next 10 years as the population ages, medical prices rise and other economic conditions come into play, according to the report.


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