Healthcare spending falls to historic lows

Healthcare spending nationwide increased 3.9 percent in February 2013 compared to February 2012, according to new data from the Altarum Institute. Despite spending levels reaching a historic low, healthcare jobs continued to grow at a steady clip.

In fact, healthcare now accounts for one out of every nine jobs in the United States, an all-time high, according to Altarum. That's despite the fact that last month, the healthcare sector created only 23,000 jobs, below the two-year monthly average of 24,000.

"Health spending has remained at about 18 percent of gross domestic product since mid-2009, but health employment continues to slowly increase as a share of total employment," Charles Roehrig, director of the Altarum Center, said in a statement. "Expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act should push these figures upward, but an improving economy will push in the other direction as non-health spending and jobs accelerate."

Much of the recent healthcare spending growth is being driven by technology, administrative expenses, hospital costs and the treatment of chronic diseases, Forbes reported.  Experts cite technology as the leading driver of healthcare spending growth, evidenced by electronic health record installation and implementation usually costing as much as $25,000 per doctor for a system, the article noted.

The Altarum data showed healthcare utilization per capita grew an average of 1.3 percent over the past 12 months. At at 18 percent in in January 2013, healthcare spending as a portion of gross domestic product rose from 16.4 percent at the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

To learn more:
- read the Altarum stataement and spending report (.pdf)
- check outethe Forbes article

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