The amount of money insurers and payers spent on hospitals, doctor office visits, outpatient centers, labs and other healthcare providers increased 6.7% in the second quarter of 2016 compared with the same period a year ago, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
It's the highest year-over-year spending growth uptick of any quarter since the first quarter of 2015, when the Census Bureau reported spending was 7.1% higher. Healthcare spending in the first quarter of this year went up 5.1%.
The quarterly census data estimate the revenue of various industries. Healthcare data represents the amounts spent by private insurers and government programs and excludes pharmaceuticals. Hospital revenue represents about 44% of the entire healthcare sector that the Census Bureau tracks.
In the second quarter, spending on hospitals increased 6.6% annually. That was a large boost from the 3.9% year-over-year uptick in hospital revenue that was recorded in the first quarter of this year.
Ambulatory healthcare settings posted even more sizable revenue increases in the second quarter. Revenue at the offices of physicians jumped 8.1% annually, while outpatient care centers recorded a 9.2% annual increase.
So far this year, healthcare providers and social assistance groups have brought in more than $1.2 trillion of revenue, up 5.9% from the same six-month period in 2015.
CMS numbers show U.S. health spending increased at a higher rate in 2015 than in 2014, due largely to the coverage expansions from the Affordable Care Act. The census data support the predictions of actuaries and economists who believe health spending will continue to grow faster than the rest of the economy for the foreseeable future.