US Health Care Spending Remains Pressing Concern

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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A recent CMS study that found health care spending in 2007 grew at the lowest rate in nine years provided "a sliver of good news for those worried about the relentless rise in health care costs," but "buried within the overall statistics was sobering evidence that health costs continue to be a pressing concern that can only be remedied through deep-seated reform in the delivery of health services," a New York Times editorial states (New York Times, 1/8).

The study, conducted by analysts in the Office of the Actuary at CMS, found that health care spending by both the public and private sectors grew at a rate of 6.1% to $2.2 trillion in 2007, a decrease from growth of 6.7% in 2006 (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 1/6).

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According to the editorial, the "chief reason for the overall slowdown was much slower growth in spending on prescription drugs" that resulted from increased use of generic medications, as well as "slower growth in prescription drug prices and safety concerns that depressed sales of some drugs," and the "big uncertainty is whether the slowdown will continue or is a temporary phenomenon."

In addition, the report found that "spending for most other health care services, including payments to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and home health services, grew at about the same rate or faster in 2007 as in 2006," the editorial states.

The editorial concludes, "Given that prescription drugs make up a relatively small slice of total spending on health care, ... it will be imperative to reduce the growth rates in spending on hospital care, nursing care and other medical services if health care is to become more affordable" (New York Times, 1/8).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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