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Health Care Outlays

Total health care outlays slow


Health care executives should expect total outlays for U.S. health care to slow due to steady insurance premiums and outlays for prescription drugs, according to an industry report.


“Overall spending on health care still increased by 7.9 percent — much faster than the rate of inflation — but below the 8 percent to 9 percent growth rates of the two previous years. Even with slower growth, though, U.S. health care expenditures amounted to almost $2 trillion, or more than $6,000 per person in 2004, and accounted for 16 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, about the same as the previous year.” according to a recent article in “Managed Healthcare Executive”.


The article makes note of a report from the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services.


“The main factor driving up health care costs was higher bills from hospitals (up 8.6 percent) and physicians (up 9 percent); these services accounted for more than 60 percent of the total spending increase in 2004.” the report notes.


The most noticeable slowdown came in prescription drugs, with retail spending on pharmaceuticals rising only 8.2 percent in 2004, a drop in the 10 percent to 15 percent increases during the five previous years.



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