KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Studies Suggest Slowdown In Health Care Costs May Last

The two studies in Health Affairs suggest that recent decreases in the rate of growth of health care spending may be a result of changes in how consumers pay for care and greater efficiency in how it is delivered and, therefore, may continue after the economy recovers.

The Wall Street Journal: Muted Health-Expense Growth May Persist
Two new economic analyses suggest a recent slowdown in health-spending growth may reflect lasting change due to fundamental shifts in how health care is delivered and paid for. The findings come as economists and policy experts debate whether the damped growth is a temporary phenomenon tied to the recession and its aftermath or is more linked to permanent changes, such as increased efficiency among health-care providers (Mathews, 5/6).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: 2 Studies Assert Lower Spending Growth Is Due To Structural Health Changes
Two new studies assert that the country's unusual slowdown in health spending growth rates may be due more to structural changes in the health care system than to the lagging economy, and thus could continue even after business picks up (Rau, 5/7).

The New York Times: Slowdown In Health Costs' Rise May Last As Economy Revives
One of the economic mysteries of the last few years has been the bigger-than-expected slowdown in health spending, a trend that promises to bolster wages and help close the wide federal deficit over the long term — but only if it persists (Lowrey, 5/6).

Bloomberg: Health-Care Cost Slowdown Seen Saving Up To $770 Billion
People with health insurance saw increases in their medical costs slow from 2009 to 2011, signaling potential structural changes in the industry that could cut health-care inflation and save the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars, according to two studies. The changes include greater use of generic drugs, higher out-of-pocket costs and more efficient care, a trend encouraged by the 2010 health-care overhaul, said David Cutler, a Harvard University health economist (Bloomberg, 5/7).

NPR: Why A Slowdown In Health Spending Is Starting To Look Real
While not solved, the growth in health spending has definitely slowed. That's the consensus of a series of studies out in the past few week. The latest bunch are in this month's issue of the policy journal Health Affairs (Rovner, 5/6).

Politico: Will Health Care Cost Slowdown Last?
Maybe health care won’t bankrupt the country after all. A dramatic slowdown in the growth of health care spending in recent years could be here to stay, according to two studies published Monday by Health Affairs (Norman, 5/7).

PBS NewsHour: U.S. Health Costs Rising More Slowly, But Will It Last?
Americans still pay more than twice the price for health care than most other developed countries, but the sticker shock has come with a bit of good news in recent years: Costs are rising more slowly. "Exceptionally slowly," as the authors of a new Health Affairs study put it. Between 2009 and 2011 -- years that included and immediately followed the recession -- health spending grew at about 3 percent per year. That's down quite a bit from the 5.9 percent increase seen in the previous 10 years (Kane, 5/6).

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