US Healthcare Spending Hit $3.3T in 2016

Gov’t report US health care tab hit $3.3T in 2016

Overall health-care spending in the US topped $3.3 trillion previous year, according to a new report released by the Trump administration.

But because health spending grew faster, as it has for years, than overall gross domestic product, health spending's share of the economy increased to 17.9 percent in 2016, up from 17.7 percent of the economy the year before.

In 2014 and 2015, spending increased 5.1% and 5.8%, respectively, as the Affordable Care Act expanded health insurance coverage through Marketplace plans and Medicaid.

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.

Out-of-pocket spending grew the most on medical equipment and supplies and decreased slightly for prescription drugs, according to the analysis. "This includes Medicaid, private health insurance, and Medicare, as well as retail prescription drugs, hospital care, and physician and clinical services".

This is the first time in memory CMS has witnessed a slowdown in goods and services spending, and among the three major payers.

CMS blamed the lethargic SNF spending growth on a slowdown in both public and private health insurance outlays: Medicare spending on skilled nursing and CCRC care rose 4.0% in 2015 and just 1.2% in 2016, while private expenditures rose 5.9% previous year - as compare to a sizable 14.3% in 2015.

Medicare Advantage now makes up a third of all Medicare enrollment.

Enrollment growth in Medicare remained fairly steady at 2.8 percent in 2016.

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Hartman, a statistician with the Office of the Actuary at CMS, said that he has not seen as broad a deceleration in healthcare spending growth since 2010.

Spending on home health services also contracted in 2016, with the 4.0% gain to $92.4 billion falling short of the 5.8% growth seen in 2015.

"In addition, in 2014 and 2015 we saw strong and rapid spending growth in retail prescription drugs", the official added.

Last year, diabetic drug cost decelerated due to prices for insulin drugs through Medicare. There was also a sharp decrease in the growth of prescription drug expenditures, as hepatitis C treatment costs have declined and fewer patients are receiving them. Finally, private insurance increased 5.1% in 2016 to reach $1.1 trillion, which was slower than growth was in 2014 and 2015, when private health insurance spending increased 5.7% and 6.9%, respectively, as enrollment grew by 8.7 million over the two years. Per capita spending on health care increased by $354, reaching $10,348.

Physician and clinical services spending rose by 5.4 percent, slowing from a growth rate of 5.9 percent in 2015. In February, CMS actuaries released health expenditure projections for 2016 to 2025 and estimated total healthcare spending to rise to $5.548 trillion in 2025 and increase to 19.9 percent of GDP by 2025.

The 8.2% spending growth for clinical services almost doubled the 4.6% growth in spending for physician services for the twelfth consecutive year. The primary reason for the deceleration in federal spending growth in 2016 was federal Medicaid spending, which grew more slowly in 2016 as a result of less Medicaid enrollment growth, the study authors wrote.

Hospital spending hit $1.1 trillion and represented 32% of overall healthcare spending. That is down from 5.7% in 2015. Hospital care expenditure growth slowed from 5.7% in 2015 to 4.7% in 2016. The increase was driven in part by an ongoing shift towards enrollment in high-deductible health plans. Medicare spending slowed because of lower per enrollee growth rates. For private health insurance and Medicaid, the slower growth was influenced by decelerated enrollment growth. On a per capita basis, national health spending grew at 3.5%, reaching $10,348 a year ago. Spending growth per Medicare enrollee increased at a slower rate in 2016 (0.8%) than in 2015 (2.1%).

Medicaid spending growth was 3.9 percent in 2016, increasing to $565.5 billion.

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