ANN ARBOR — The December Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs released today by Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending indicate that October health price inflation, at 1.9 percent, represents a 13-year low; health spending growth in October ticked down to 5.0 percent, and health employment in November exhibited below-average growth of 17,000 jobs.
Total health spending growth fell from its September value of 5.2 percent (year-over-year), brought down by slower growth in hospital, physician services, and nursing home spending. The health spending share of the total economy, currently at 18.1 percent, appears to be stabilizing around 18 percent, and is barely off its all-time high of 18.2 percent reached in June 2011.
The December briefs show health jobs up 17,000 in November and include an important upward revision to October job growth, from 12,000 to 24,000.
The complete set of briefs, providing monthly data on health care spending, prices, and employment, can be viewed at www.altarum.org/healthindicators.
“The data show a ‘quiet’ trend in the sector,” said Center Director, Dr. Charles Roehrig. “Spending growth is back to 5.0 percent after three months of slightly higher rates, price inflation hovers around 2.0 percent for 10 consecutive months, and is now the lowest rate since June 1998; and after some recent strong months, health employment growth is now just below its 24-month average.”
Roehrig suggested a strengthening U.S. economy might lead to a period of catch-up where the broader economy grows faster than the health sector. “Our data show the vital role health care has played creating jobs in a difficult economy. While we expect the sector to continue creating jobs, the spotlight might dim some as non-health employment begins to pick up steam, something we all want to happen.”
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 http://www.altarum.org/publications-resources-health-systems-research/sign-up.
Altarum Institute (www.altarum.org) integrates objective research and client-centered consulting skills to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions that improve health and health care. Altarum employs more than 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, with additional offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Sacramento, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.