This month’s Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs show a rebound in health care spending and jobs, and varied price effects from the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically:
- A rebound in health spending in total and across all categories except for nursing home care. However, national health spending in May 2020 was still 12.7% below its May 2019 value, while the personal health care spending component of the total was 16.5% lower than in May 2019.
- Health care has regained 43% of the 1.58 million jobs lost in March and April 2020, adding 315,000 jobs in May and 358,000 jobs in June. Workload and employment in ambulatory care settings, where most of the job losses occurred, have come back more quickly than anticipated.
- Annual hospital price growth rose to 3.1% in June, a high rate last seen in March 2013, and annual drug price growth rose to 2.0% in June (representing an average price growth of 1.8% in 2020 vs. minus 0.2% in 2019).
- Even with recent recovery, now threatened by renewed COVID-19 case growth, utilization will not stabilize any time soon. This was highlighted on Wednesday with the release of huge earnings for the 2nd quarter from the massive insurer UnitedHealth Group. Earnings were driven by lower utilization which is only slowly recovering.