California Healthline: Study Links Slowdown in Health Care Spending to Weaker U.S. Economy

The recession and the slow recovery from it are the major driving forces behind a recent slowdown in health care spending, while higher patient cost-sharing and other changes to the health system play a smaller role, according to a study released yesterday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Altarum Institute, The Hill‘s “Healthwatch” reports (Viebeck, “Healthwatch,” The Hill, 4/22).

For the study, analysts developed a model that tracked health care cost growth using economic indicators over the past 50 years to predict future growth rates for health care spending (Kliff, “Wonkblog,” Washington Post, 4/22).

The study was prepared by Larry Levitt, senior vice president of KFF, along with KFF’s Gary Claxton, Charles Roehrig of Altarum Institute and Thomas Getzen of the Fox School of Business at Temple University.

The study found that health care spending totaled about $2.8 trillion in 2012 and grew on average by 4.2% annually from 2008 to 2012, down from a recent peak of 8.8% annually between 2001 and 2003 (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/22).

The study showed that the recession and poor economic recovery accounted for 77% of the factors that contributed to the recent slowdown in national health care spending, while just 23% resulted from changes in the health care system, such as higher deductibles and other cost-sharing strategies made by insurers and medical providers (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 4/22).

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