January 07, 2014
1 min read

Growth rate remains low for US health spending

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The overall cost of health care in the United States grew 3.7% in 2012, which was more slowly than the economy, and marked the fourth consecutive year of low growth, according to CMS.

Helping drive the trend was slower growth in expenditures for prescription drugs, nursing homes, private health insurance and Medicare. According to a CMS report, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, “contributed to the slow growth for the Medicare program in 2012, but had a limited impact on overall spending as reforms were still being implemented in 2012.”

“For the second straight year, we have seen overall health care costs grow slower than the economy as a whole,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, said. “This is good news.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • Private health insurance spending increased 3.2%, compared with 3.4% in 2011.
  • Medicare spending increased by 4.8%, compared with 5% in 2011.
  • Retail prescription drug spending rose 0.4%, which the CMS report linked to loss of patent protection for many drugs, leading to an increase in sales of lower-priced generics.
  • Nursing homes and care retirement community spending grew by 1.6%, compared with 4.3% in 2011.
  • Medicaid spending grew 3.3%, an increase over 2011, but a “historically low overall growth rate,” according to a CMS press release.