$3 trillion dollars. That’s how much the U.S spent on health care last year according to a new report in the journal Health Affairs. That’s a jump of 5.3% over 2013.
Growth in U.S. health-care spending is accelerating after reaching historic lows, a pickup largely attributed to the millions of Americans who have gotten health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Other drivers behind the increase include a rebounding economy, aging baby boomers, and high-price specialty drugs. The aging population is adding to the ranks of Medicare, which covers individuals age 65 and older and the disabled.
Spending on prescription drugs skyrocketed 12.2% last year to almost $3 billion dollars. That was a dramatic rise from the 2.4% increase in 2013. The LA Times looked at possible reasons for the sharp increase.
Federal actuaries cited the introduction of high-priced specialty drugs for hepatitis C as well as price increases for other brand-name medications.
Rising drug costs and efforts to combat them have become high-profile issues on the presidential campaign trail and on Wall Street.
According to a report on NBCnews.com – “Americans now spend $9,523 per person a year on medical expenses – by far the most among developed countries.” Healthcare spending now accounts for 17.5% of the U.S. economy.
These new numbers are sure to spark renewed debate over the Affordable Care Act. ABC News wrote:
While the president’s health care law has increased coverage, the cost problem doesn’t appear solved. Even now, the Republican-led Congress is preparing to send a repeal bill to his desk.
“From the political point of view, it’s absolutely significant,” said Robert Blendon, who follows public opinion on health care at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Critics will point to the report as authoritative evidence the health law is starting to raise costs.
What do you think about the new numbers? Share your thoughts on what it means….and how it might affect the people of Arizona.