By Clive Riddle, April 12, 2013
Altarum Institute each month issues Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs through its Center for Sustainable Health Spending. The brief cover health care spending, utilization, prices, and employment, and are worth perusing each time.
Altarum’s Charles Roehrig, Director of the Center, had this to say about their current assessment of health care in the economy: “Health spending has remained at about 18 percent of gross domestic product since mid-2009, but health employment continues to slowly increase as a share of total employment. Expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act should push these figures upward, but an improving economy will push in the other direction as non-health spending and jobs accelerate. We look forward to tracking how these forces play out.”
Here’s the current pulse of the health care economic sector from Altarum’s just issued April briefs, which incorporate February and March 2013 data:
- National health care spending in February 2013 grew 3.9% relative to February 2012
- Health care price growth rose to 1.7% in February 2013 compared to February 2012, two-tenths above January 2013 reading
- This was still the second lowest rate of price increase since 1.3% growth recorded in December 1997.
- The 12-month moving average price growth at 1.9% in February 2013 is the lowest since the same figure recorded in November 1998.
- In February 2013, health spending increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $2.89 trillion, slightly higher than its value of $2.88 trillion in January.
- The health spending share of the gross domestic product was steady at 18.0% in January 2013, up from 16.4% at the start of the recession in December 2007.
- Health spending by category in February 2013: Hospital – 32%; Physician & Clinical – 19%; Prescriptions – 10%; Nursing Home – 5%; Dental – 4%; Home Health – 3%; Other personal healthcare – 11%; Other health spending – 16%
- Year-over-year, hospital prices rose to 2.6% in February (from 2.0% in January). Physician and clinical services rose 0.8%, barely above the low 0.6% January print. Prescription drugs saw price growth tumble to 0.8%, from 4.0% as recently as August 2012, and the lowest since 0.7% in June 2007.
- Implicit per capita health care utilization averaged 1.3% growth over the last 12 months.
- Health care employment rose by 23,000 jobs in March 2013, somewhat below the 24-month average increase of 24,000
- Health care represented 10.74% of total employment in March 2013, compared to 10.67% a year ago and 9.49% in December 2007.