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Health Spending Trends Up In 2011 Despite Slow Growth In Health Care Prices

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Health care spending in the first four months of 2011 grew at an annual rate of 4.7 percent, up from 3.9 percent growth in 2010, according to the July Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs released by Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

The Ann Arbor-based institute attributed the higher spending growth to a rebound in health care utilization, since health care price inflation has actually slowed in recent months.

The complete set of briefs, providing monthly data on health care spending, prices, and employment, can be viewed at www.altarum.org/healthindicators.

“The uptick in the spending growth rate through April is not large enough to be a major concern,” said the director of the Center, Charles Roehrig. “The low growth in health employment in May and June would, if anything, suggest a leveling off in spending in the next few months. Any sharper increase in spending in the next several months would, of course, be a cause for renewed concern and warrant a detailed look at the underlying drivers.”

The three briefs (employment, spending, and prices) are now released simultaneously each month to provide a more integrated analysis of these data. To view these briefs, visit www.altarum.org/healthindicators.

If you wish to receive an email notification regarding the monthly release of Altarum Institute’s Health Sector Economic Indicators, please visit http://www.altarum.org/publications-resources-health-systems-research/sign-up.

Altarum employs more than 400 individuals and has additional offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Sacramento, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.

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