Healthcare spending likely to rise sharply in coming years

Healthcare spending has been growing at a historically low rate, but that will change in the coming years.

That's the conclusion of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which has studied spending and growth trends for the next several years. The agency's findings, published in the most recent issue of the journal Health Affairs, is that growth and prices are on the rise.

"Healthcare prices during the period 2016-18 are expected to rebound from recent historically low growth rates, contributing to faster growth in projected healthcare costs," said the study, which was authored by officials from the CMS Office of the Actuary.

CMS predicts that health spending will grow an average of 5.8 percent per year between 2014 and 2024. The nation's expenditures for healthcare will comprise 20 percent of the entire nation's gross domestic product by 2024. That's more than $5 trillion per year.

The study attributes a variety of reasons for the increases, including the rise of insured as the result of the Affordable Care Act and pricey drugs for treating conditions such as hepatitis C.

There have been other indicators of an increase in healthcare spending. The Altarum Institute reported that spending rose 5 percent in 2014, slightly lower than what CMS was reporting, but still significantly higher than the 3.6 percent growth rate reported in 2013.

Healthcare costs may rise even more, with one study by the Kaiser Family Foundation concluding that they will reach annual increases of 7 percent before the end of the decade. Costs had been increasing at less than 4 percent per year in recent years.

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs article

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