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Healthcare Spending Growth Hits 53-Year Low

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 7, 2014

The authors of the report noted, however, other factors were at play, mainly the nationwide economic recession.

"The low rates of national health spending growth and relative stability since 2009 primarily reflect the lagged impacts of the recent severe economic recession," Anne B. Martin, an economist at CMS and lead author of the study said in prepared remarks. "Additionally, 2012 was impacted by the mostly one-time effects of a large number of blockbuster prescription drugs losing patent protection and a Medicare payment reduction to skilled nursing facilities."

In fact, the study said that the ACA had "minimal impact on aggregate health spending through 2012." However, several provisions of the sweeping reforms affected "certain subcomponents" of national health expenditures, namely the increase in the Medicaid rebates for prescription drugs, the Medicare "donut hole" drug coverage gap program, the expansion of coverage for dependents under the age of 26, and minimal medical loss ratios for commercial plans. 

The slower growth tracked with personal healthcare spending on healthcare goods and services, which the study said accounted for 85% of total national healthcare spending and which grew by 3.9% in 2012 – up .4% from 2011. The slight uptick was linked to accelerated growth in hospital, physician, and clinical services.

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