Health Sector Spending

We conduct research and identify strategies to bend the health care cost curve.

Health Sector Spending Solutions

Achieving Sustainable Health Spending

Health spending has grown faster than the economy for decades, resulting in growth of the health care share of national economic output (gross domestic product (GDP)) from about 7 percent in 1970 to approximately 18 percent today. This inexorable increase in health care spending is a problem for individuals, families, businesses, government, and the overall economic health of the country. This is particularly evident when viewing federal, state, and local government budgets. About half of health care spending is publicly financed, mostly through Medicare and Medicaid, and the current rate of growth for these programs is not sustainable as it crowds out other priorities, such as infrastructure needs or education.  A sustainable solution requires a long-term reduction in the health spending growth rate relative to GDP or “bending the health care cost curve.”

To identify trends and track progress toward sustainable growth, we regularly issue the following two reports:

Health Sector Economic Indicators (HSEI). These monthly briefs analyze the most recent data available on health sector employment, spending, prices, and utilization—helping to fill gaps in the official government data.

Health Sector Trend Reports. These quarterly reports build on the HSEI briefs by incorporating just-released data from the US Census Bureau’s Quarterly Services Survey (QSS), as reflected in the Bureau of Economic Analysis spending data that are a primary source for our HSEI spending estimates. The body of the report focuses on data and trends through the most recent quarter, while the longer appendix looks at trends in a broader historical context.

We are assisted in these endevours by our National Advisory Committee.

We also hold an annual symposium on sustainable health spending. View the latest on each below.

Health Sector Spending Publications

Featured Reports

February 2020 Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs

See the latest data on health spending, price, and labor growth.

February 21, 2020

Health Sector Trend Report, April 2019

This quarterly report examines current trends in US health care spending, prices, utilization, and employment.

May 02, 2019

Sustainable Health Spending: Serious Issues—Sound Policy Solutions

Video recording of Altarum's 8th annual sustainable health spending symposium, which took place on July 12, 2018, in Washington, DC.

July 26, 2018

Health Sector Spending Contact

Contact Us

Paul Hughes-Cromwick

Paul Hughes-Cromwick - MA

Co-Director of Sustainable Health Spending Strategies

Areas of Expertise
  • Health Sector Spending
  • Health Policy Analysis

For over 35 years, Paul Hughes-Cromwick has been involved in health care economic and policy analyses including economic forecasting and health sector economic indicators. Paul leads Altarum’s monthly series of timely briefs covering national health spending, employment, prices and health care utilization. Paul has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Clark University.

Ani Turner

Ani Turner - MA

Co-Director of Sustainable Health Spending Strategies

Areas of Expertise
  • Health Sector Spending
  • Health Equity

With over 25 years of experience working with both government and commercial sector clients, Ani leads Altarum's forecasting work on areas such as health sector spending and employment, as well as on studies focusing on societal impacts of health disparities and equity. Ani holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in applied economics with a concentration in labor economics, both from the University of Michigan.