CMS: Healthcare spending rises significantly in 2014

Healthcare spending, which had been subdued to historic lows in recent years, appears to be rebounding in big way, according to a new federal study.

The study, conducted by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and published in the journal Health Affairs, concluded that last year, U.S. healthcare spending grew at a rate of 5.3 percent, reaching $3 trillion in total expenditures for the first time, or the equivalent of $9,523 per person.

By contrast, healthcare spending grew at an average annual clip of 3.7 percent. In 2013, it grew at a much lower pace, 2.9 percent.

The report dovetails with recent warnings from the federal government that spending rates would rebound in the coming years from historical lows.

"Two main factors were responsible for health spending growth in 2014--coverage expansion associated with the Affordable Care Act and faster growth in prescription drug spending," said Anne B. Martin, an economist in the Office of the Actuary at CMS and lead author of the Health Affairs article, in a statement to the press. "However, it is unknown how these drivers of healthcare spending will affect trends over the next few years as the new health insurance landscape continues to evolve."

Medicaid spending showed one of the biggest growth trends, increasing from a 5.9 percent annual growth rate in 2013 to 11 percent last year.

The growth appears in contrast to healthcare prices for hospitals and other providers, which have been slow to increase in recent months.

Overall healthcare spending as a portion of the U.S. gross domestic product increased from 17.3 percent to 17.5 percent.

To learn more:
- read the report abstract
- here's the statement