Health care spending up 3.8% in March

By BenefitsPro

By Amanda McGrory-Dixon

Health care spending increased 3.8 percent in March, according to a report from Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

This figure is one-tenth below February’s number and under the Altarum Institute’s estimate of 4.3 percent.

The report also finds that health care employment only added an average of 19,000 jobs per month this year, under 2012’s addition of 27,000 monthly jobs.

Since March 2012, health care prices have risen 1.6 percent with the 12-month moving average hitting 1.9 percent, which is the lowest figure since the 1.8 percent seen in October 1998.

“The somewhat slower growth in health spending is driven by slower health care price growth, which, in turn, is following slower economy-wide inflation,” said Charles Roehrig, director of Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

“Our research suggests that the recession continues to push down on health spending, cutting growth by a percentage point or more. And while the data are noisy, health providers may finally be cutting back employment in light of reimbursement pressures.”

Of the gross domestic product, health spending share came to 18.1 percent in March, an increase from 16.4 percent at the recession’s beginning in December 2007, the report finds. On average, implicit per capita health care utilization totaled to a 1.3 percent gain in the past year.

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