Healthcare prices, spending at new lows

Healthcare spending remains relatively depressed, while healthcare price increases were at their lowest rates since the 1990s, according to new reports from the Altarum Institute.

Prices were up only 2 percent between May 2011 and May 2012, the slowest growth since January 1999. Healthcare spending increased 3.8 percent between May 2011 and May 2012, according to Altarum.

"Our analysis continues to show stable health spending growth hovering around the 4% mark, and this three-and-a-half year trend is entirely unprecedented," Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum Center for Sustainable Health Spending, said in a statement. "As a result, health spending as a share of GDP has held
steady at about 18% over this same period and, were it not for disappointing GDP growth, could actually be falling," he said.

Spending has increased about 11 percent since the Great Recession began in late 2007, compared to a 7.3 percent increase in non-healthcare prices, according to Altarum. Prior to the recession, the annual price growth was about 10.6 percent per year.

However, cost increases are still being passed onto employers at rates at or near double-digit increases, reported Human Resource Executive Online.

Hospitals represented the biggest chunk of healthcare spending in May, about $890 billion on an annualized rate, or 32 percent of all expenditures, according to Altarum. Physician and clinical services represented about 19 percent of total spending, or $536 billion.

For more:
- check out the Altarum reports and statement
- read the Human Resource Executive Online article