Factors associated with increases in U.S. healthcare spending

Nov. 8, 2017

Healthcare spending increased by more than $900 billion from 1996 to 2013. More than half of the spending increase was attributed to increased prices for healthcare services, with lesser contributions from growth and aging of the U.S. population, outlines a new article by Joseph L. Dieleman, Ph.D., of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, and coauthors.

Spending on healthcare in the United States is higher than in any other country and is increasing. Total health spending in 2015 reached $3.2 trillion and accounted for nearly 18% of the U.S. economy. Understanding what drives spending increases could inform future policy initiatives to help control growth. These are: Changes in five factors (population size, population aging, disease prevalence or incidence, service utilization, or service price) related to healthcare spending (exposure); changes in healthcare spending in the United States from 1996 to 2013 (outcome).

Data on the five factors for 155 health conditions and six types of care (ambulatory, inpatient, prescriptions acquired in retail settings, nursing facility, emergency departments, and dental care) were collected and analyzed from the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s U.S. Disease Expenditure 2013 project.

Results indicate that after adjustments for price inflation, annual healthcare spending on the six types of care increased from $1.2 trillion to $2.1 trillion between 1996 and 2013.

Scientists note that study limitation include: Spending estimates were not separated by payer; data on spending and disease were captured only at the national level.

Increases in U.S. healthcare spending from 1996 through 2013 were largely related to increases in prices for healthcare services but also related to population growth and aging. Understanding the factors that affect spending and how they vary across health conditions and types of care may inform policy efforts to contain healthcare spending.

ScienceDaily has the full article