Healthcare spending experiences a growth spurt

Healthcare spending is quickly on the rise--as is job growth, according to new data released by the Altarum Institute. Yet price growth remains low.

Spending grew 6.6 percent between February 2014 and last February, one of the highest growth rates reported in years, Altarum's Center for Sustainable Health Spending reported.

Since the start of the Great Recession in 2007, real health spending has risen at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, according to Altarum's April spending brief. But Altarum noted in another recent report that spending was on a significant uptick. The data also contradicts other forecasts that spending would be in a slow-growth mode for the long-term.

By contrast, healthcare prices in February of this year rose just 1.4 percent compared to February 2014, Altarum reported. Healthcare prices between January 2014 and 2015 rose just 1.2 percent.

"Our updated estimates show 2014 health spending growth at the highest rate since 2007, with this acceleration apparently continuing into 2015," said Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum Center for Sustainable Health Spending, in the company's statement. "While data for 2015 are preliminary, the spending increase, especially in the hospital sector, does align with hospital job growth."

The healthcare sector added 22,000 jobs during March 2015, according to Altarum, the most recent month for which data is available. That is below the 12-month average of about 30,000 jobs per month. Hospitals added 8,000 jobs in March, which is below the 10,000 monthly average during the first quarter of this year.

To learn more:
- read the Altarum statement 
- check out the Altarum spending brief (.pdf)
- here's Altarum's price brief (.pdf)
- read Altarum's labor brief (.pdf)