CMS: Healthcare spending growth slowed in 2016; per capita spending topped $10K

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A new report from CMS found that healthcare spending growth slowed in 2016.

Healthcare spending growth slowed in 2016 following two years of rapid growth in 2014 and 2015, according to a new report. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary issued its annual spending analysis, and in 2016 healthcare spending grew at a rate of 4.3%, reaching $3.3 trillion, according to the report (PDF). Compared to past years, the rate slowed, which the researchers said is likely due to a burst of insurance enrollment in the first years that the Affordable Care Act was in full effect. 

"The report concludes that the 2016 expenditure slowdown was broadly based as growth for all major payers (private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid) and goods and service categories (hospitals, physician and clinical services and retail prescription drugs) slowed in 2016," CMS said in an announcement.

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Per capita spending topped $10,000 in 2016, according to the report. Spending per person last year was $10,348, an increase of $358 from the year before. Out-of-pocket spending increased by the largest margin since 2007, according to the report, growing 3.9%. Such spending accounts for 11% of healthcare spending, a figure that has remained flat since 2012. 

RELATED: Healthcare spending trends may damage U.S. economy 

The share of the economy dedicated to healthcare spending increased slightly, from 17.7% to 17.9%. That share grew faster than the nation's gross domestic product, according to the actuary, which increased by 2.8%. 

While enrollment trends slowed spending for private and Medicaid spending, slower per-enrollee spending growth drove a decrease in Medicare spending. Spending on retail prescription drugs also decreased, another key factor. 

Though coverage spikes under the ACA that drive significant growth over the past several years are slowing, experts expect healthcare spending to continue to increase due to an aging population and growing healthcare costs. 

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