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Healthcare Spending Growth Hits 53-Year Low

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 7, 2014

Out-of-pocket spending (3.8%)
Spending growth increased faster in 2012 compared to 2011 when growth was 3.5% due mainly to increased cost sharing for physician and clinical services. The growth was moderated by reduced out-of-pocket spending on previously expensive prescription brand-name drugs that had lost patent protection. Total out-of-pocket spending reached $328.2 billion in 2012.

Retail prescription drugs (.4 percent)
Spending growth slowed from 2.5% in 2011 to reach $263.3 billion in 2012. This reduced growth rate was driven largely by a slowdown in overall prices for prescription drugs as an unusually large number of name-brand drugs such as Lipitor, Plavix, and Singulair lost patent protection in late 2011 and in 2012.

Nursing care facilities and continuing care retirement communities (1.6%)
Spending growth slowed from 4.3% in 2011 to reach $151.5 billion in 2012. This slower growth was primarily due to a one-time Medicare payment reduction to skilled nursing facilities to adjust for a large increase in payments in 2011.

Private health insurance (3.2%)
Continued slow growth in total premiums (following 3.4% growth in 2011) was mainly due to low growth in enrollment in 2012, which remained 9.4 million enrollees fewer in 2012 than in 2007. Net enrollment gains in high-deductible health plans, which generally have lower premiums and higher cost sharing than other more popular plans, also contributed to the slow premium growth in 2012.

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