ANN ARBOR, MI—National health spending in April 2016 was 4.6% higher than in April 2015. This marked the sixth consecutive month of spending growth below 5%, and is well under the estimated average of 5.8% for all of 2015. Among the larger categories, spending on prescription drugs grew fastest (6.8%) and hospital care the slowest (2.7%). The health spending share of GDP was 18.1% in March.
Health care added 45,700 new jobs in May, even more than the robust 12-month average of 40,600 new jobs per month. Growth in both ambulatory care settings and hospitals continued at the pace seen over the past year, with ambulatory care adding 23,500 jobs and hospitals adding 16,500 jobs in May. Health jobs grew 3.2% year-over-year while nonhealth jobs grew 1.5%, increasing the health share of total employment to a new all-time high of 10.77%.
Health care prices in April 2016 were 1.5% higher than in April 2015, unchanged from the March 2016 rate. The April 2016 12month moving average was at 1.2% for the third straight month. Year-over-year hospital price growth fell to 0.8% from 1.0% in March. Physician and clinical services prices rose a scant 0.6%, the same rate recorded in March. Drug price growth rose to 4.0% from 3.6% in March, making it easily the fastest growing price component.
These data come from the monthly Health Sector Economic IndicatorsSM briefs released by Altarum’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending (http://www.altarum.org/healthindicators).
“We continue to observe a somewhat paradoxical combination of slower growth in health spending and continued high growth in health employment,” said Charles Roehrig, founding director of the Center. “Data from the June 8 release of the Quarterly Services Survey have not been incorporated in these estimates, however, and will likely result in a small upward revision to health spending in our next report, thus reducing the discrepancy between spending and jobs.”