Health Care Prices and Employment Trend Up: Spending Flat For Now

July 11, 2014

ANN ARBOR, MI—Health care prices in May 2014 were 1.8 percent higher than in May 2013, well above the 12-month moving average of 1.3 percent. Hospital prices grew 2.1 percent, while prescription drug prices rose 3.6 percent. Physician and clinical services prices, which exhibited near-zero growth in the first quarter of 2014, grew by 0.6 percent.

Health care gained 21,000 jobs in June 2014. Over the first half of 2014, the health sector grew by more than 20,000 jobs per month, about 20 percent higher than in the first half of 2013. Growth in the second quarter was particularly strong: 25,000 jobs per month versus 15,000 in the first quarter. The health share of total employment fell slightly to 10.61 percent, down from the all-time high of 10.66 percent last seen in December 2012.

As we reported on June 27, health spending in May 2014 grew 4.8 percent over May 2013, the same figure estimated for growth in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the first quarter of 2013. This represents a significant downward revision to earlier estimates. Spending in May, year over year, increased in all major categories, with prescription drugs growing the fastest at 12.2 percent.

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).

“The rise in health care prices and employment during the second quarter suggests that spending will rebound from the unexpectedly slow first quarter rate,” said Charles Roehrig, director of the Center. “However, we are still not detecting signs of the increases in utilization expected from expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act and suspect the effect may be more incremental and gradual than first expected.”

###

There is still time to register for our Symposium on Sustainable U.S. Health Spending: The Quest for Value, July 15 in Washington, DC. Register here to see national experts analyze the trends.

###

Contact Information
Ken Schwartz
202-772-5062
ken.schwartz@altarum.org

###

Altarum Institute (www.altarum.org) integrates objective research and client-centered consulting skills to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions that improve health and health care. Altarum employs over 450 individuals and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with additional offices in Portland, Maine, and the Washington, D.C., area.

RELATED CONTENT

Subject Matter Experts

Areas of Expertise