By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service
WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2015) — Healthcare expenditures surged in 2014, fueled by expanded coverage and soaring prescription drug costs, according to a recent government research report.
In 2014, total U.S. healthcare spending hit $3.080 trillion, up from $2.919 trillion in 2013, according to statistics compiled by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and recently published in the journal Health Affairs.
That 5.5-percent increase compares to a 3.6-percent rise in 2013, which was the lowest in the 55 years that government researchers have been tracking and compiling such information.
Last year's acceleration in healthcare spending was driven by several factors. They include healthcare reform law provisions that went into effect in 2014 that expanded eligibility for Medicaid coverage and authorized federal premium subsidies for the lower-income uninsured, as well as big spending increases for prescription drugs, where expenditures leaped by 12.6 percent in 2014.
That prescription drug cost spending increase was “fueled largely by new high-cost specialty drugs for treatment of hepatitis C and, to a lesser extent, new treatments for cancer and multiple sclerosis,” a report summary said.
Healthcare expenditures are expected to rise in 2015 to a record 18 percent of the gross domestic product, up from 17.7 percent in 2014 and 17.4 percent in 2013, according to the report.
This report appeared on the website of Crain's Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.