Economists see health spending bouncing back

Ama-assn.org: June 25, 2012.


Federal actuaries say Medicare spending will increase steadily as more seniors enroll, but physician pay cuts would slow spending dramatically if allowed to take effect.

Washington Federal health actuaries anticipate that growth in national health spending, which has been restrained in recent years, will continue to accelerate as the economy recovers and more Americans potentially gain health coverage.

Annual total health expenditures are expected to grow an average of 5.7% between 2011 and 2021, according to a study by actuaries from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the June 12 Health Affairs. The authors expect Americans to spend more health care dollars compared with previous years because of coverage expansion provisions in the national health system reform law and because more seniors will be enrolling in Medicare.

Spending on physician services had grown 2.7% in 2011, which was at a slightly faster pace than in 2010. “Overall, however, the growth rate on physician and clinical services still remains relatively slow,” the report said. “The pace reflects the enduring impact of the economic downturn, including continuing declines in patient visits to physicians, for people with and without insurance, and slower price inflation for these types of services in 2011.” Read more