Economists were likely not surprised by the latest estimate of U.S. first-quarter health spending, which came in a bit lower than an initial guess released by federal officials in April. They're instead already looking ahead to June when a third revision should give a much more concrete indication of what actually is happening with health spending.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis on Thursday released a second estimate for the nation's economic growth during the first quarter. The revised snapshot looked bleaker for the overall economy, which contracted instead of achieving marginal growth as initially reported. But for health spending, which has seen a pronounced and welcome slowdown in recent years, the latest estimate of economic growth delivered good news.
Consumer spending for healthcare services such as hospitals, nursing homes and physician visits grew at an annualized rate of 8.9% based on the revised estimate, said Paul Hughes-Cromwick, a senior health economist with the Altarum Institute. In other circumstances, that figure would be an unsettling break from recent annual growth of slightly less than 4%. But this growth estimate is slower than the nearly 10% surge in health spending projected in April and may be considered confirmation of doubt that many expressed in such rapid acceleration.