Friday, January 7, 2011

Health Care Spending Declines to 50-Year Low - Nursing Link

U.S. health care spending in 2009 grew at the slowest rate in 50 years, as the recession and high unemployment caused outlays for nearly all medical goods and services to slow or decline, according to a new government report released Wednesday.

Unlike previous recessions, when spending for health services began to slow some two years after an economic downturn, the effect of the Great Recession was swift and profound on insurers, health care providers and patients in both 2008 and 2009.

Total public and private spending for health services grew by 4 percent to $2.5 trillion, or $8,086 per person in 2009.

That’s up from $7,845 per person in 2008 when annual health outlays increased only 4.7 percent, which was the second-slowest growth rate in the last half a century, the Department of Health and Human Services reported.

Fueling the spending slowdown in 2009 was a 3.2 percent decline in private health insurance enrollment as 6.3 million people lost job-based health coverage that year. That loss of private coverage also curbed growth in out-of-pocket spending by patients, many of whom delayed medical care because of a lack of cash.

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