CMS: Health spending slowdown is history

The slowdown in health spending growth may be near its end, with an improved economy and increased coverage likely to bring faster growth, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary published in Health Affairs.

Expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will cut the number of uninsured Americans nearly in half by 2023, according to the report, from 45 million to 23 million. 

Healthcare spending growth for 2013, meanwhile, is projected at 3.6 percent, the fifth consecutive year of growth below 4 percent.

However, due to continued implementation of ACA coverage provisions, economic growth and an aging population, the report projects 6 percent average annual growth from 2015 to 2023. This is faster than the past few years but still below the average of 7.2 percent annual growth rate from 1990 to 2008.

"Healthcare costs are increasing at a slower rate thanks to the Affordable Care Act," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement. "The dramatic decrease in the number of uninsured Americans is a win for our country and its economy in the future."

Despite assurances from the White House that the ACA is contributing to reduced costs, Andrea M. Sisko, the report's lead author, told reporters that CMS actuaries are no longer measuring its effect on healthcare spending, according to Kaiser Health News.

"Now that the Affordable Care Act has been in place for well over four years, it is becoming increasingly difficult to accurately estimate … what the world would look like in the absence [of the law]," she said.

While the report projects Medicare enrollment and spending growth, cutbacks in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans will offset this growth, according to the report. The report projects expenditures within the program will rise 7.9 percent in 2020.

To learn more:
- here's the report
- read the statement
- check out the article