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Of Interest

How healthcare providers make, spend, borrow and invest money.
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By Melanie Evans

New spending statistics offering disturbing look at U.S. healthcare

12:30 pm, Jan. 16

A yearly look at U.S. health spending, released last week, underscored a worrying drop in household medical spending that accompanied the economic downturn.

“Although medical goods and services are generally viewed as necessities, the latest recession had a dramatic affect on their utilization,” wrote the federal economists and statisticians who compiled the latest snapshot.

The amount of medical care provided—how often people seek care or the intensity of the medical care they receive—made up just 0.1% of the 3.7% increase of the health spending growth in 2010, the federal figures show. Rising prices accounted for most of the gain (2.7%). Population changes accounted for the rest.

My colleague Jessica Zigmond reports this week in greater depth on the latest numbers and noted that sluggish healthcare spending was nonetheless double the rate of general inflation in 2010.

Here's a look at the drivers of health spending growth for the last decade:

Source: National Health Statistics Group CMS Office of the Actuary

Hospital spending growth cooled to 4.9% to total $814 billion in 2010. Here's a look at the role that price and use (and population) played in hospital spending growth during the last decade:

Source: National Health Statistics Group CMS Office of the Actuary

You can follow Melanie Evans on Twitter: @MHmevans.

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