California Healthline: Slowdown in Health Care Spending Might Be Short-Lived, Analysts Say

lthough health care spending in the U.S. increased by 3.9% in 2011 — the lowest rate since the 1960s — it still makes up almost 18% of the country’s gross domestic product and there are a number of powerful pressures that could resume the upward trend in spending, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Reports released in recent months by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics and the Kaiser Family Foundation have pegged much of the deceleration in health care spending growth to several factors, such as lower prescription drug prices and reduced demand for drugs, physician visits and elective surgeries as a result of the economic slowdown.

Meanwhile, a recent Health Affairs study by Harvard University researchers found that health care spending has declined because hospitals are more efficient, fewer new blockbuster drugs have entered the market and consumers are sharing a larger portion of their medical expenses. The authors suggested that if the trends continue, public-sector health spending could be $770 billion less than estimated over the next decade.

Spending Slowdown Could Be Temporary


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