Center for Sustainable Health Spending Photo

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% in 1970 to approximately 18% 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.”

What Are Our Core Strategies for Approaching This Work?
Altarum builds upon decades of multidisciplinary policy research experience and advanced economic modeling for public, private, and philanthropic clients. We are focusing this research and policy expertise on the macroeconomic trends and key drivers of health care spending to formulate strategies for sustainable growth.

Core strategies are:

  • Timely tracking and forecasting of health spending and cost factors;
  • Quantifying sustainable health spending relative to federal government revenues and spending on health and other needs;
  • Systems-level evaluations of options for bending the cost curve;
  • Research to fill data gaps and develop new promising strategies; and
  • Development of and advocacy for policy recommendations to advance proven approaches.

Why is Altarum Well Positioned to Do This Work?
Altarum brings objectivity and a systems approach to the myriad advocacy positions concerning U.S. health care cost drivers and cost reduction strategies. Many years of research analyzing components of U.S. health spending have given us the indepth knowledge of health spending issues, data sets, and analytic techniques critical to this work. We have developed close relationships with many of the nation’s top researchers through collaborative work and our use of expert advisory panels, and have achieved national recognition for this initiative through publications, conference presentations, and media coverage.

This work is Co-Directed by Ani Turner, an economist with over 20 years experience on health workforce modeling and other decision-oriented, quantitative analysis in health care policy, and Paul Hughes-Cromwick, a senior economist who leads outreach activities, and coordinates the HSEI briefs. Other senior members are Dr. George Miller, an Altarum fellow, who leads research on the value of prevention, and Dr. Charles Roehrig, CSHS Founding Director, health care economist, and econometrician who is nationally known for estimating national health spending by medical condition, and analyses of health spending and their implications.

Contact Information
To learn more about our sustainable health spending work, please contact:

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