This quarterly report examines current trends in U.S. health care spending, prices, utilization, and employment. Highlights include:
- The rate of growth in U.S. health spending increased to 4.8% in Q1 2018, compared to 4.6% growth in 2017 and 4.3% growth in 2016.
- Growth in health care utilization declined to 2.3% in Q1 2018, while health insurance coverage fell.
- Health care price growth has been accelerating since Q4 2017, and climbed above 2% in Q1 2018.
- In addition to an acceleration in price growth, Q1 2018 also shows a return to health care price growth above economy-wide inflation.
- The number of health care jobs added by quarter has moderated since the acceleration in hiring in 2015 and 2016, but has remained remarkably steady through Q1 2018.
- The acceleration in health care utilization during expanded coverage was stronger than the acceleration in health care job growth, but growth rates appear to be coming back into alignment.
About Altarum's Quarterly Health Sector Trend Reports
With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Altarum provides a quarterly analysis of key trends in health care spending, prices, utilization, and employment. These reports make direct use of the Quarterly Services Survey (QSS), the timeliest source of detailed, survey-based spending information for health care services, which account for more than 70% of national health spending. Each quarter, when new QSS data are released (March, June, September, and December), we publish this report.
These trend reports are related to, but distinct from, Altarum's Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs, which are issued every month.