Healthcare spending, price growth slows in 2017 but job growth spikes | Healthcare Finance News

Healthcare spending growth slowed in 2016, and the trend appears to be continuing, according to the August 2017 Altarum Institute Center Health Sector Trend report.

According to the report, spending grew by only 4.6 percent in 2016 and estimates based on new data have the downward trend continuing with growth for the first half of 2017 at 4.4 percent. Altarum said the estimates illustrate the impact of expanded coverage, and its subsequent leveling off, on healthcare utilization. Coverage expansion was concentrated in 2014 and 2015, leading to a jump in health services utilization. That peaked at at 5.1 percent in 2015.

“Coverage leveled off in 2016 and, in response, the growth in health services utilization has been trending back toward pre-expanded coverage rates,” Altarum said.

Healthcare price growth has also dropped in 2017, from 2 percent in the first quarter to 1.6 percent in the second quarter.

Though much higher than healthcare services, prescription drug price growth slowed to 3.6 percent in the second quarter 2017. However it is important to note that the impact of rebates are not reflected in these data, and that drug pricing controversies like the one surrounding Mylan’s EpiPen were recently resolved and some generic alternatives have been made available at lower prices.

Finally, health employment grew an average of 21,000 jobs per month during the first 5 months of 2017 then unexpectedly rebounded to 38,000 in June and July. The jump in June and July was a surprise, and was focused mainly in ambulatory settings.

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Healthcare spending, price growth slows in 2017 but job growth spikes | Healthcare Finance News.