Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Decelerated Growth: Time to Celebrate?

It's rare that we hear the term "decelerated growth" and it represents a glimmer of hope.

According to a U.S. Health and Human Service's study, while 2008 saw the overall increase in healthcare costs rise 4.4 percent, when compared to 2007"s 6 percent growth, there has been a significant slow down.

Here is a breakdown on where some of the reduction in costs came from:

  • Hospital spending growth increased only 4.5 percent to $718.4 billion compared to 5.9 percent growth in 2007. (The 2008 growth was the slowest rate of increase since 1998 and was influenced by decelerating price growth, investment losses, and slower growth in Medicaid hospital spending. Partially offsetting these factors were increased growth in both inpatient and outpatient utilization and faster Medicare hospital spending growth).
  • Spending on physician and clinical services increased 5.0 percent in 2008 as opposed to 5.8 percent in 2007 (A slight increase in growth of use and intensity in 2008 was offset by decelerating price growth).
  • Spending growth for other professional services (therapists, chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists, etc.) decelerated from 6.5 percent in 2007 to 5.6 percent in 2008.
  • Spending growth for dental services decelerated from 6.2 percent in 2007 to 5.1 percent in 2008.
  • Spending growth for other personal health care services, which includes expenditures for medical services delivered in non-traditional settings, such as schools or community centers decelerated from 5.8 percent in 2007 to 2.6 percent in 2008.
  • Spending growth for freestanding home health care services decelerated from 11.8 percent in 2007 to 9.0 percent in 2008.
  • Spending growth for freestanding nursing homes decelerated from 5.8 percent in 2007 to 4.6 percent in 2008.
  • Prescription drug spending growth decelerated from 4.5 percent in 2007 to 3.2 percent in 2008.

Its not all good news though. Despite the slower growth in overall health expenditures, the share of U.S. GDP devoted to health care increased to 16% from 15.9%in 2007.

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