Growth in US health spending slowed considerably in 2016, rising by 4.3 percent, after two years of higher spending growth spurred by Obamacare and prescription drugs. CMS attributes the slowdown to a wider slowdown in spending growth for retail prescription drugs, hospital care and physician and clinical services.
One exception to the slowdown in 2016 was spending on out-of-pocket health charges - including, copayments and deductibles, and spending not covered by insurance - which grew at their fastest rates since 2007. For private health insurance and Medicaid, the slower growth was influenced by decelerated enrollment growth, while Medicare spending slowed because of lower per enrollee growth rates.
Spending growth slowed in 2016 for private health insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare.
Authors of the CMS report said spending growth slowed a year ago for all three major categories of medical goods and services - hospitals, physician/clinical services and retail prescription drugs - for the first time since 2010.
Private insurer spend increased 5.1% to $1.1 trillion in 2016 (roughly 33% of all health expenditures), which is a slowdown from the 6.9% growth seen in 2015.
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"Over the last decade, the USA has experienced unique events that have affected the health care sector, including the most severe economic recession since the Great Depression, major changes to the health care system because of the ACA and historic lows in medical price inflation", said Micah Hartman, a statistician in the Office of the Actuary and lead author of a Health Affairs article on the results. And they told reporters they could not recall another time before previous year that spending growth had slowed for all three major payers - private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid - and for goods and services, too.
The National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA) are the official estimates of total health care spending in the United States. The share of spending made up of retail prescription drug is similar to what it was in 2009, CMS said. Medicaid and private health insurance spending growth slowed, mainly as the result of ACA enrollments in 2014 and 2015. Physician and clinical servicesPhysician and clinical services spending slowed from a growth rate of 5.9% in 2015 to 5.4% in 2016.
Medicare, the federally run program that provides health coverage to primarily older Americans, saw spending grow by 3.6 percent in 2016, to $672.1 billion.
The fraction of uninsured Americans fell 2.8%, from 29.5 million in 2015 to 28.6 million in 2016, a stark slowdown from 2014 and 2015 where the number fell by more than 17% both years.
The 8.2% spending growth for clinical services almost doubled the 4.6% growth in spending for physician services for the twelfth consecutive year. Medicare spending had increased by 4.8 percent in 2015 and 4.9 percent in 2014. All three increases were well below growth rates of the previous two years; for example, Medicaid spending jumped 11.5 percent in 2014 and 9.5 percent in 2015.
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