U.S. spending on health care grew 5.3% in 2014 – largely due to coverage expansion associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and rapidly rising prescription drug prices – following five straight years of historically low growth, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported Dec. 2 in an article published online in Health Affairs.
“Millions of uninsured Americans gained health care coverage in 2014,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “And still, the rate of growth remains below the level in most years prior to the coverage expansion, while out-of-pocket costs grew at the fifth lowest level on record.”
Retail prescription drug spending increased by 12.2%, up from 2.4% in 2013, due to increased spending on new medicines, particularly for specialty drugs such as those used to treat hepatitis C, and price increases for brand name drugs.
Medicaid spending increased 11% in 2014, up from 5.9% in 2013; however, Medicaid spending per enrollee declined 2% in 2014.
Overall spending for hospital care increased 4.1% in 2014, up from 3.5% growth in 2013; however, hospital prices increased at a slower rate in 2014 than 2013 – 1.3% and 2.2%, respectively.
Spending accelerated in 2014 for physician and clinical services (4.6%), Medicare (5.5%) and private health insurance (4.4%).
In 2014, the gross domestic product share devoted to health care increased to 17.5%, up from 17.3% in 2013, according to the report.