October 22, 2014

Cost Growth Slows in Health Care But Further Steps Needed

  • The American health care system is a patchwork of public and private programs that serve citizens in different ways, depending on their age, military...

Health care spending over the past four years grew at the slowest rate in more than half a century, according to a new report by by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

It says the spending grew by 3.7 percent in 2012; since 2009 the annual rate has been between 3.6 percent and 3.8 percent. But uncertainty remains about why, and where things could go from here.

“So while we should be encouraged by the recent slowdown in health care costs, we must not lose sight of the need to further curb cost growth over the long term,” says Sara Imhof, Midwest regional director for The Concord Coalition.

In a blog post today, she notes several factors that have helped slow the cost growth, including the slow economic recovery, Obamacare, and structural changes in health care delivery. Imhof also points to a variety of ways in which health care costs could be held down in the future, including greater transparency in pricing and quality, and a shift away from fee-for-service medicine.