ANN ARBOR, MI — Health care gained a modest 7,000 jobs in July, bringing the 2014 year-to-date monthly average down to 18,000, very close to the monthly average for all of 2013. This low net figure masks above-average growth in ambulatory care and job losses in hospitals. The health share of total employment fell from 10.61% to 10.60%, down from the high of 10.66% last seen in December 2012, and the lowest figure since October 2010.
Health care prices in June 2014 were 1.7% higher than in June 2013, but similar to the rates reported for April and May, and 0.6% higher than for the first quarter of 2014. Hospital prices grew 1.9%, while prescription drug prices rose 4.1%, up from the May rate of 3.6%, and the highest reading since March 2012.
Health spending in June 2014 grew 4.8% over June 2013, a significant increase over the 4.2% growth estimated for calendar year 2013. Most of this increase can be attributed to the 11.9% growth in spending on prescription drugs in June, compared with 5.3% growth in 2013. Health spending estimates for the second quarter of 2014 will undergo an important revision in October, reflecting results from the government’s September Quarterly Services Survey (QSS).
These data come from the monthly Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM briefs released by Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending (www.altarum.org/HealthIndicators).
“Publicly traded healthcare systems are generally reporting second quarter increases in revenues and utilization that we have been expecting due to expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act.” said Charles Roehrig, director of the Center. “However, this seems to be happening without any corresponding increase in health care jobs. The impact on health spending will become clearer in mid-September when results from the government’s Quarterly Services Survey are released.”
For expert commentary on health spending and related factors, a full video of our Symposium on Sustainable U.S. Health Spending: The Quest for Value, held July 15 in Washington, D.C., is available here: www.altarum.org/cshs/meetings