U.S. Health Spending Growth Remains Historically Low in 2011

National healthcare expenditures grew 3.9 percent in 2011, similar to growth rates in 2009 and 2010, meaning healthcare spending continues to grow at historically slow levels, according to the official analysis of national healthcare data from CMS' Office of the Actuary.

CMSlogoThe analysis, released today in the January edition of Health Affairs, showed 2011 national healthcare expenditures totaled $2.7 trillion, or $8,680 per person, compared with $2.6 trillion in 2010, matching projections from this past June.

The biggest contributors to the nation's slowed healthcare spending growth were hospital spending and Medicaid expenditures, according to CMS data. Hospital expenditures, the largest portion of national healthcare spending, grew 4.3 percent to $850.6 billion in 2011, down from 4.9 percent in 2010. CMS attributed the slowed hospital spending growth to lower charged prices by hospitals and stagnant use of hospital services by patients.

Medicaid spending grew only 2.5 percent, a big reduction from 5.9 percent in 2010. Strained state budgets due to the economy, smaller federal shares of Medicaid and slowed Medicaid enrollment from 2010 to 2011 brought the Medicaid spending growth down.

"The recent recession had an immediate and noticeable effect on the health sector because of high unemployment, loss of private health insurance coverage and a reduction in the resources available to pay for healthcare," according to CMS' report. "All of these factors contributed to historically low growth in aggregate health spending during 2009–11."

However, CMS noted a few areas where national healthcare expenditures grew rapidly from 2010 to 2011, including Medicare spending, private health insurance, retail prescription drugs, physician services and out-of-pocket spending.

More Articles on National Healthcare Expenditures:

8 Areas of "Hidden" National Health Expenses
A Look From Within: Why Are U.S. Healthcare Costs so High?
CMS: National Health Spending Grows 3.9% in 2011

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