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Home Health Care Spending Rose Modestly in 2016

Home Health Care Spending Rose Modestly in 2016

Medicare spending had increased by 4.8 percent in 2015 and 4.9 percent in 2014. That's down from 5.8% in 2015 and 5.1% in 2014.

Out-of-pocket spending increased 3.9 percent last year ― the biggest annual growth in nine years, the Office of the Actuary reports. There were mixed reasons for the slower growth in hospital spending. Medicaid and private health insurance spending growth slowed, mainly as the result of ACA enrollments in 2014 and 2015. There was also an uptick in employer-sponsored coverage due to an improving economy.

The slow growth during those years is mostly attributable to the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and the sluggish recovery that followed. Out-of-pocket spending grew 3.9 percent to $352.5 billion in 2016, faster than the 2.8 percent growth in 2015.

The government says US health care spending reached $3.3 trillion previous year, which averages out to $10,348 for every man, woman, and child.

"Over the last decade, the USA has experienced unique events that have affected the health care sector, including the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression, major changes to the health care system because of the ACA and historic lows in medical price inflation", said Micah Hartman, a statistician in the Office of the Actuary and lead author of a Health Affairs article on the results.

Medicaid spending on physician and clinical services saw a larger slowdown, increasing only 4.1% in 2016 after growing 9.9% in 2015 and 21.8% in 2014, due in part to slower enrollment growth.

Medicare and Medicaid accounted for a total of 37% of national health expenditures.

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The spending rate grew 3.6% in 2016, slowing from 4.8% in 2015, while enrollment growth remained relatively stable, increasing 2.8% in 2016 compared to 2.7 % in 2015.

Still, health spending continues to outpace overall spending on goods and services, which increased 2.8 percent in 2016.

The report noted that USA health spending rose by 5.1 percent in 2014, and then by 5.8 percent in 2015. After reaching a growth rate as high as 11.5% in 2014, Medicaid reported a 3.9% spending growth in 2016. Finally, private insurance increased 5.1% in 2016 to reach $1.1 trillion, which was slower than growth was in 2014 and 2015, when private health insurance spending increased 5.7% and 6.9%, respectively, as enrollment grew by 8.7 million over the two years.

Retail prescription drugs expenditures reached $328.6 billion and represented 10% of overall health spending.

Among the main drivers for spending growth were residual use and intensity of goods and sevices (1.6%); increase in medical prices (1.4%); and changes to the population's age and gender mix (0.6%). Slower growth was due in part to slower enrollment growth and was partly offset by faster growth in hospital prices, which accelerated slightly from 0.9% in 2015 to 1.2% a year ago.

The report attributed the deceleration in spending to falling prices and the introduction of fewer new drugs. Last year, on a per enrollee basis, Medicaid spending increased 0.9%, down from 4.5% in 2015, which reflects increased efforts by states to control costs, a decline in supplemental payments to hospitals, and a decrease in per enrollee costs for newly eligible adults.

Health care has consumed an ever-growing share of the economy and of spending by the government and the private sector for decades.


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