ANN ARBOR — The October Health Sector Economic Indicator briefs from Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending indicate that health spending in August grew by 5.0 percent relative to August 2010, matching the annualized growth rate for the first eight months of 2011.

This contrasts with the 9 percent increase in family premiums recently reported for 2011. Health care prices were up only 2.1 percent compared to August 2010 — well below economy-wide inflation. Between August and September, the health sector added 44,000 jobs, the largest monthly gain in nearly a decade, resulting in yet another record share of total jobs.

The complete set of briefs, providing monthly data on health care spending, prices, and employment, can be viewed at

“Two facts really jump out of this month’s analysis,” said center director Charles Roehrig. “First, the widely publicized 9 percent rise in family health insurance premiums is not indicative of what has been happening with overall health spending. Spending has been growing at an annual rate of about 5 percent in 2011 and our data show that health care prices have actually trailed economy-wide inflation in recent months. Second, the health sector continues to be very strong in terms of job creation, a critical fact in an economy that is otherwise not producing jobs. This month’s analysis shows an additional 44,000 jobs created by the health sector — a nine-year high.”

While the number of health-related jobs can vary considerably each month, September is the third consecutive month with above average growth. The Altarum analysis of these health employment data shows that the health sector is not yet facing any slowdown in terms of job creation.

Altarum’s Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs offer timely analysis of health sector employment, spending, and prices. To receive an email notification regarding the monthly release of Health Sector Economic Indicators, please visit

Altarum provides research and consulting in health care. Besides its Ann Arbor headquarters, the 400-employee organization has offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Sacramento, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.


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