- Posted April 29, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Healthcare Spending Goes Flat - Good Sign?
Most of us may be shocked to learn that studies are showing that healthcare spending seems to be flattening and not rising even as costs have risen. Some of the reason is admittedly because of the economic crisis, but the same is being seen with those subscribed in Medicare and Medicaid where the crisis has no impact.
Does this leveling off in healthcare spending a positive for the overall US economy?
Or is the lessing of people seeking treatment indicative of an underlying issue?
The growth of health spending has slowed substantially in the past few years, surprising experts and offering some fuel for optimism about the federal government's long-term fiscal performance.
Much of the slowdown is because of the recession, and thus not unexpected, health experts said. But some of it seems to be due to changing behavior by consumers and providers of health care - meaning that the lower rates of growth might persist even as the economy picks up.
Because Medicare and Medicaid are two of the largest contributors to the country's long-term debts, slower growth in health costs could reduce the pressure for enormous spending cuts or tax increases.
In 2009 and 2010, total nationwide health care spending grew at less than 4 percent per year, the slowest annual pace in more than five decades, according to the latest numbers from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. After years of taking up a growing share of economic activity, health spending held steady in 2010, at 17.9 percent of the gross domestic product.
The growth rate mostly slowed as millions of Americans lost insurance coverage along with their jobs. Worried about job security, others may have feared taking time off work for doctor's visits or surgical procedures, or skipped non-urgent care when money was tight.
Still, the slowdown was sharper than health economists expected, and a broad, bipartisan range of academics, hospital administrators and policy experts has started to wonder if what had seemed impossible might be happening - that doctors and patients have begun to change their behavior in ways that bend the so-called cost curve.
From the Cornfield, with most recent brush with the healthcare system, this does present an interesting question.