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Robert B. Vogel, MD, JD
Retinal Ophthalmologist at Piedmont Eye Center, Lynchburg VA;
Attorney, Overbey Hawkins & Wright, PLLS, Lynchburg, VA;
Adjunct Professor, Humanities and Bioethics, Liberty University School of Medicine, Lynchburg, VA.
Per-capita healthcare spending in 2015 grew by 5.0% and overall national healthcare expenditures (NHE) grew by 5.8%, according to a study recently released by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
According to the findings, the NHE in 2015 was $3.2 trillion, or $9,990 per person. The NHE’s share of the gross domestic product increased to 17.8%, up from 17.4% in 2014. CMS attributes the increasing growth in NHE/GDP ratio over the past two years to expanded health insurance coverage for individuals through the insurance marketplace and the Medicaid program ushered in by the ACA, and slower-than-expected economic growth.
Total expenditures for private health insurance reached $1.1 trillion and increased 7.2% in 2015, compared to 5.8% in 2014 and 2.1% in 2013. Private health insurance continued to be the largest payer of healthcare in the United States, accounting for 33% of total healthcare spending.
The authors noted that the insured share of the population was 86.0% in 2013, approximately where it had been in 2008. However, from 2013 to 2015 the number of uninsured individuals fell by 15 million, and the insured share of the population reached 90.9%. The GDP in 2014 and 2015 grew by 4.2% and 3.7%, respectively.
Total Medicaid spending by federal and state and local governments reached $545.1 billion in 2015 and accounted for 17% of total national health expenditures. Medicaid spending continued to grow at a rate of 9.7% in 2015, following growth of 11.6% in 2014.
Total Medicare spending reached $646.2 billion in 2015 and accounted for 20% of total healthcare spending. Medicare spending grew 4.5% in 2015, slightly slower than the previous year. Spending for nursing homes and home health accelerated, while hospital and prescription drug spending slowed. However, Medicare prescription drug spending was still at 11.0% in 2015, down from 14.5% in 2014.
“While the 2014–15 period is unique, given the significant changes in health insurance coverage that took place, health spending is projected to increase as a share of the overall economy over the next ten years and will be influenced by the aging of the population, changing economic conditions, and faster medical price growth,” the study authors concluded.