CHICAGO (Sept. 19, 2013) — Health care expenditures continued to increase modestly in 2012, but cost increases could begin to accelerate next year and continue as the economy improves and key provisions of the health care reform law take effect, according to government research released Wednesday.
In 2012, total U.S. health care spending hit $2.81 trillion, or $8,948 per person. While a record, expenditures rose only 3.9 percent in 2012, the same percentage increase as in 2011, 2010 and 2009, according to statistics compiled by researchers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and published in the journal Health Affairs.
Those annual percentage increases were the lowest in the 53 years that government researchers have been tracking and compiling such information.
Those modest increases in health care spending reflect several factors, especially the sluggish economy, which has made consumers more cautious in their use of health care services, and employers' efforts to control costs through greater use of high-deductible plans, the report said.
While the increase in health care spending in 2013 is expected to remain below 4 percent, government researchers project that national health expenditures will jump by 6.1 percent in 2014 and 5.8 percent in 2015.
That acceleration in health care spending will be largely driven by provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through which millions of uninsured Americans will gain coverage, starting in 2014, in public health insurance exchanges and Medicaid, the report said.
In 2014 alone, 11 million Americans are projected to gain new coverage, while in 2015 another 8 million uninsured will gain coverage.
Also boosting health care spending will be growth in the nation's economy.
"The resulting projected gains in disposable personal income are expected to drive increased use of health care goods and services," the report said.
This report appeared on businessinsurance.com, the website of Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.