Health care spending may be leveling off – it grew at an annual rate of only 4.7 percent in the first four months of 2011, according to the Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending.
That compares to 3.9 percent annual growth in 2010, and is likely up as more people make use of health care services. The nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization said health care price inflation has actually slowed in recent months.
“The uptick in the spending growth rate through April is not large enough to be a major concern,” Dr. Charles Roehrig, who directs the center, said in a statement.
“The low growth in health employment in May and June would, if anything, suggest a leveling off in spending in the next few months. Any sharper increase in spending in the next several months would, of course, be a cause for renewed concern and warrant a detailed look at the underlying drivers.”
The findings are comparable to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that showed U.S. health care spending growth decelerated in 2009, increasing by 4 percent compared to 4.7 percent in 2008. In 2009, the United States spent $2.5 trillion on health care, which translates to $8,086 per person or 17.6 percent of gross domestic product, up from 16.6 percent in 2008.