Health spending growth much lower than expected

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Since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, projected federal healthcare spending has decreased each year as factors such as a weak economy, high deductible health plans and reduced provider payment rates have led to historically low rates of spending growth.

Researchers from the Urban Institute released a report online on April 8 that examined the changing forecasts.

In September 2010, actuaries from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimated national health expenditures would be $3.3 trillion in 2014, $4.6 trillion in 2019 and $23.6 trillion between 2014 and 2019.

However, the most recent CMS report from October 2014 projected that the spending would be $3.1 trillion in 2014, $4 trillion in 2019 and $21 trillion between 2014 and 2019.

The authors also found that Medicare spending from 2014 to 2019 would be $384 billion less than projected in 2010, while private health insurance and Medicaid spending would be $927 billion and $688 billion less than projected.

They mentioned that growth in health spending has been historically low since 2008. For instance, forecasters in 2010 thought there would be 6.1 percent health spending growth in 2013. However, health spending only increased 3.6 percent in 2013.

From 2010 to 2013, health spending growth has been at or below gross domestic product (GDP) growth, although CMS projects health spending growth would exceed GDP growth from 2016 to 2019.