New York Times (01/10/12) Pear, Robert
National health spending increased by a slight 3.9% in 2010, reports the Obama administration, as Americans delayed hospital care, doctor’s visits and prescription drug purchases for the second year in a row. Lingering effects of the recession reduced the explosive growth of health spending, which totaled $2.6 trillion in 2010. Health spending normally grows much faster than the economy, but in 2010 growth rates were similar, so that health care accounted for the same share of total economic output in 2009 and 2010.
“U.S. health spending grew more slowly in 2009 and 2010” than at any other time in the 51 years the government has been collecting such data, said Anne Martin, an economist in the office of the actuary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Medicare spending grew in 2010 by 5%, the smallest rate of increase in more than a decade, the report said, citing a slowdown in spending for the managed care program known as Medicare Advantage. Government economists said President Obama’s health care overhaul had little impact on the overall level of health spending and, in some cases, simply shifted payments from one source to another.