February 14, 2014

Stable Growth in Health Care Spending Since 2009

As reported in Health Affairs, total health care spending in the U.S. increased by 3.7% in 2012, to $2.8 trillion.  That marks four consecutive years of a growth rate between 3.6% and 3.8%, and a decline from previous growth levels earlier in the 2000s.  For example, health care spending grew by 6.3% in 2007 and 9.7% in 2002. According to the article, “the relative stability since 2009 primarily reflects the lagged impacts of the recent severe economic recession.”

Health care spending was 17.2% of gross domestic product in 2012, down slightly from 2011 (17.3%).

The article discusses various factors contributing to the growth in health care spending, as well as information on health care spending in various categories.  One category with a slightly higher than average increase in 2012 was prescription drugs, with spending increasing only 0.4%.  The articles notes that a significant factor in this reduced growth was “a slowdown in overall prices paid for retail prescription drugs as numerous brand-name blockbuster drugs . . . lost patent protection in late 2011 and in 2012 and as generic versions became available.”