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 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.

We are assisted in these endeavors by our National Advisory Commitee

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

Health Sector Spending Publications

Featured Reports

January 2022 Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs

Spending growth since the start of the pandemic reflects significant federal government support; price growth has picked up but remains well below economywide inflation; and employment grew slowly in 2021 and only in ambulatory care settings.

January 21, 2022

December 2021 Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs

In this month’s Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs, we incorporate new CMS health expenditure data for 2020 and show the impact of federal spending on near-record growth, while healthcare prices rise slightly and 2021's labor trends persist. 

December 23, 2021

November 2021 Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs

With high GDP growth, health spending stabilizes near 17.5% of GDP, health care price growth remains low amid continued increases in economy-wide inflation, and jobs in ambulatory care continue to grow amid strong economy-wide job growth.

November 16, 2021

Health Sector Spending Contact

Contact Us

George Miller

George Miller - PhD, BSE, MSE

Fellow and Research Team Leader

Areas of Expertise
  • Value of Health
  • Low-Value Care
  • Health Economics

Dr. George Miller is a fellow participating in Altarum's efforts to track national spending, analyze the drivers of spending growth, and quantify a sustainable spending growth rate. Dr. Miller received his BSE, MSE, and PhD degrees in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan, where he subsequently served as an adjunct assistant professor.

Ani Turner

Ani Turner - MA

Program Director, Health Economics and Policy

Areas of Expertise
  • Health Spending
  • Health Equity
  • Health Workforce

With over 30 years of experience working with government, commercial, and philanthropic clients, Ani leads Altarum research and policy analyses in areas such as health spending and workforce and the economic impacts of investments in improving health and advancing racial equity. Ani holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in applied economics with a concentration in labor economics, both from the University of Michigan.