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U.S. Health Care Spending Up 4.6 Percent in 2018

Acceleration in overall growth driven by faster growth in private health insurance and Medicare

TUESDAY, Dec. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- In 2018, U.S. health care spending increased 4.6 percent, a faster rate than that seen in 2017, according to a report published online Dec. 5 in Health Affairs.

Micah Hartman, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Baltimore, and colleagues describe the trends seen in U.S. health care spending in 2018.

The researchers noted a 4.6 percent increase in U.S. health care spending to reach $3.6 trillion in 2018, faster than the 4.2 percent rate of 2017 and the same as the 2016 rate. The share of the economy devoted to health care spending decreased from 17.9 percent in 2017 to 17.7 percent in 2018. Faster growth in both private health insurance and Medicare drove the acceleration in overall growth in 2018, which was influenced by the reinstatement of the health insurance tax. From 2017 to 2018, there was no change in personal health care spending (4.1 percent), which accounted for 84 percent of national health care spending. For the second consecutive year, there was an increase of 1.0 million in the number of uninsured people, to reach 30.7 million in 2018.

"For health care, the relative stability in spending growth since the insurance expansions in 2014 and 2015 reflects continued low growth in medical prices, which is influenced by both low economy-wide price growth and negative excess medical price inflation, as well as relative stability in health insurance enrollment," the authors write.

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