ANN ARBOR (WWJ) — National health expenditures for the first 11 months of 2013 came in just 4 percent above the first 11 months of 2012, according to the Center for Sustainable Health Spending of the Ann Arbor-based research organization Altarum Institute.
Preliminary spending data for November 2013 showed year over year growth of 4.5 percent in spending from November 2012.
Depending on the December data, 2013 could wind up the fifth consecutive year of health spending growth below 4 percent, a rate that had not been seen before in the 50-plus years of national health expenditure accounting.
The data also showed national health care prices in December, 2013 were 1.1 percent higher than in December 2012, barely above the all-time low of 1
percent recorded in October 2013. The December, 2013 12-month moving average, at 1.3 percent, represents a new all-time low for the study. Year over year, hospital prices grew 1.5 percent in December, physician and clinical services prices rose by 0.2 percent, and home health care prices actually fell 0.5 percent.
The full report is at http://www.altarum.org/HealthIndicators.
The data showed the share of gross domestic product spent on health care was 17.2 percent in November, the lowest reading since September 2012 —
indicating that health care may be absorbing a smaller share of the economy, especially if GDP growth accelerates in 2014, as is widely predicted.
The data also showed the U.S. health care industry shed 6,000 jobs in December. If this estimate stands, it will be the first monthly drop since July
2003, and only the second since 1989. The health sector added about two-thirds as many jobs in calendar year 2013 (208,000) as in 2012 (321,000),
with particular slowing in hospitals and nursing homes. The health sector share of total employment fell to 10.71 percent, below the all-time high of 10.73 percent recorded in August 2013.
“While 2013 looks to be another year of historically slow growth in health spending, the data currently suggest an upward drift during the second half.”
said Charles Roehrig, director of the center. “We expect this upward trend to accelerate in 2014 with the advent of ACA expanded coverage and a recovering economy. It will be interesting to see what the data say as the new year unfolds.”
Altarum (www.altarum.org) provides research and consulting to the health care industry. It employs almost 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, with additional offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.