Healthcare spending inches up as patients absorb costs

A tough economic environment and greater cost-sharing by patients helped keep healthcare spending mostly in check during 2010, reported Reuters.

According to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare expenditures creeped up only 3.9 percent to a total of $2.6 trillion. That was marginally higher than the 3.8 percent spike reported in 2008, the smallest reported increase since the 1950s.

Hospital spending went up 4.9 percent, reaching $814 billion. It grew by 6.4 percent in 2009, noted Reuters.

"People's budgets have been hard-hit, and even if they have 20 percent co-pays from their insurance companies, that 20 percent may still be too much," said William Galston of the Brookings Institution.

However, the White House noted that the net cost of health insurance rose by 8.4 percent in 2010, making a continued case for consumer protections.

The federal government's spending on healthcare totaled $743 billion, according to CMS data. Medicare costs jumped 5 percent to $525 billion while Medicaid grew 7.2 percent to $401 billion, partly as the result of increased enrollment due to the economic climate. Half of the cost of that program was borne by state governments.

For more information:
- read the Reuters article
- read the CMS press release