Healthcare revenue growth from payers slows

New data from Standard & Poor's showed reimbursements hospitals receive from Medicare and commercial insurers grew at its lowest rate in seven years, reported the Dallas Fort Worth Healthcare Daily.

Although the data is more evidence that healthcare inflation is being tamed for the moment, it also illustrates the challenges hospitals have in growing existing revenue streams.

According to the rating service, the revenue from Medicare and commercial payers grew at a combined annual rate of 3.84 percent between September 2012 and 2011. That compares to a 4.5 percent annual growth rate between August 2012 and 2011.

The Medicare revenue growth rate was 2.17 percent, while the commercial payer revenue growth rate was 5.12 percent, S&P noted.

"This deceleration is quite substantial compared to historic patterns," David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones indices said Thursday in a statement. "With September data, we observe that the growth rate in the hospital index has decelerated for five consecutive months, from a recent high of 5.75% in April 2012."

The overall per capita cost for delivering healthcare through Medicare and commercial plans stood at just over 5 percent per year as of September, according to S&P--significantly lower than the 5.7 percent annual rate reported in August.

For more:
- read the Healthcare Daily article
- here's the Standard & Poor's statement