Health Price Inflation Remains Moderate While Spending Growth Ticks up Led by Hospitals

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The November Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs from Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending indicate that health price inflation remains flat – up only 2.1 percent in September compared to September 2010 – continuing an 8-month trend of near 2 percent inflation.

Total health spending, led by higher hospital spending, grew by 5.2 percent in September relative to September 2010. The average spending growth rate for the third quarter of 2011 was also 5.2 percent, compared to 4.8 percent growth in the second quarter of 2011. The health spending share of the total economy remains above 18 percent for the fifth consecutive month.

The November briefs also point to a slower rate of health employment for October, with a rise of 12,000. The previous three months, on average, saw 36,000 health jobs added per month.

The complete set of briefs, providing monthly data on health care spending, prices, and employment, can be viewed at

“The data show two potentially conflicting trends,” said center director, Dr. Charles Roehrig. “Health spending for September, and the third quarter as a whole, appeared to accelerate, led by a 7.1 percent growth rate for hospitals. Yet health care prices, uncharacteristically, continued for a fourth month to trail economy-wide inflation.”

Roehrig also suggested it was too early to predict that the sector was ending its extraordinarily strong employment performance. “This is a departure from the rate of jobs growth we have seen in the past few months,” said Roehrig, “but the sector still demonstrates steady job creation in comparison to the rest of the economy. We’ll need to watch what the numbers indicate over the next several months before knowing definitively if this ride is really slowing down.”

Altarum’s Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs offer timely analysis of health sector employment, spending, and prices. To receive an email notification regarding the monthly release of Health Sector Economic Indicators, please visit

Altarum Institute ( integrates objective research and client-centered consulting skills to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions that improve health and health care. Altarum employs more than 400 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., with additional offices in the Washington, D.C., area; Sacramento, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Portland, Maine; and San Antonio, Texas.


Altarum Institute
Jeff Moore, 703-575-1685
[email protected]

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