Tracking Virginia’s Health Care Sector Through 2019

Report | January 13, 2021 | Corwin Rhyan, Matt Daly, George Miller, Paul Hughes-Cromwick

Making progress on improving health care quality and value requires detailed, longitudinal data that tracks health sector spending, employment, and prices. States in particular need these data to assess their own health sectors, track changes over time, and compare their progress to national trends. Detailed, up-to-date health sector data allow states to identify outlier sectors, payers and components; assess how health care is evolving via growth rates; and provide benchmark information to evaluate the effectiveness of state policy interventions. While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provide national-level health expenditure data annually, state-level estimates are released far more infrequently and with a greater lag—at the time of writing state-level health spending estimates are only available through 2014.

To help close this gap in understanding for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Altarum applied its Health Sector Economic Indicator (HSEI) framework that benchmarks to and builds on official CMS data using other data sources to estimate current health sector spending. By incorporating data from CMS, the Commonwealth’s All-Payer Claims Database, and other public sources, we provide estimates through 2019 of the Commonwealth’s health spending, labor, and price trends, including assessments of spending by major component and payer, employment trends, and trends in private-sector health insurance costs.

Select major findings from the report include:

  • Virginia’s health spending reached over $92.2 billion dollars in 2019, about $10,800 per resident. Health spending per-capita in Virginia is about 7.1% lower than the national average.
  • Health spending growth rates in Virginia have averaged 4.5% since 2015, below the national average of 4.8%. Among major categories, hospital spending growth was the lowest (3.6%) and prescription drug spending growth was the highest (7.3%).
  • As a percent of overall Gross State Product, health spending accounted for 16.8% in Virginia versus 17.8% of Gross Domestic Product across the US. As a result, Virginia spent $6.6 billion less in 2019 than it would have if its health spending as percent of its overall economy was equal to the broader US average.
  • About 378,000 individuals were employed by the health care sector in Virginia at the end of 2019 (50% in ambulatory care, 29% in hospitals, and 21% in nursing home and residential care).
  • For those with private health insurance through an employer, the average single premium was $6,800 and family premium was $19,900 in 2019. Since 2008, these premiums have increased 61.3%, while per-enrollee personal health care spending has only increased 42.7%. 

A variety of other data, assessments, and insights from Virginia’s health sector are available in the report, including comparisons of the Commonwealth’s health sector to national trends and interpretations of these changes over time. Detailed data sources, methodologies, and assumptions are included in a report appendix. The authors would like to thank the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association for their support of this work and the Virginia Health Information organization for their assistance and for providing data from the All-Payer Claims Database.

Read the report “Tracking Virginia’s Health Care Sector through 2019.”

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