KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

U.S. Health Expenditures Increased 4% In 2009

This increase represents the smallest one in at least a half a century. At the same time, though, medical costs ate up a record share of the overall economy. Experts pointed to the recession as a key explanation.

The Washington Post: U.S. Health-Care Expenditures Up Only 4% In 2009, Suggesting Effects Of Recession
The nation's expenditures on health care in 2009 grew by 4%, the smallest increase in at least a half-century, according to new federal figures that suggest Americans stinted on medical services as they lost jobs and insurance in the recent recession (Goldstein, 1/5).

The New York Times: Health Spending Rose In '09, But At Low Rate
Total national health spending grew by 4% in 2009, the slowest rate of increase in 50 years, as people lost their jobs, lost health insurance and deferred medical care, the federal government reported on Wednesday (Pear, 1/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Spending Eats Up Record Chunk Of GDP
Health spending rose to a record 17.6% of the U.S. economy in 2009, as the overall economy shrank and higher federal Medicaid spending helped to push up health costs (Landers, 1/6).

The Associated Press: Good News? Recession Slowed Health Care Spending
It sounds like good news: The recession slowed the growth of the nation's health care bill to the lowest levels ever measured. But a government report Wednesday said medical costs still gobbled up a record share of the overall economy, meaning the slowdown did not change the nation's underlying problem with out-of-control health care spending (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/5).

Reuters: Recession Dents Growth Of Healthcare Spending
Spending on hospital services, doctor visits, medicines and other health needs rose 4% to $2.5 trillion in 2009 compared with 4.7% in 2008, economists at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in findings released on Wednesday. Much of the slowdown stemmed from a drop in the number of people with private insurance as job losses grew and people used fewer healthcare services, the CMS economists said (Heavey, 1/5).

Bloomberg: Health Spending By U.S. Outpaced Insurers In 2009 As Economy Struggled
U.S. government spending on Medicaid and Medicare rose almost six times faster than insurance company expenditures in 2009 from the prior year as the recession pushed more Americans onto public assistance, a federal report said. The U.S. and states combined to spend $373.9 billion on Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor, an increase of 9%. Outlays for Medicare, aiding the elderly and disabled, rose 7.9% to $502.3 billion. Insurance companies led by UnitedHealth Group Inc. spent $801.2 billion, an increase of 1.3% (Young, 1/5).

The Fiscal Times: Rise in Health Care Spending Down, But Not Out
It's worth taking a closer look at the last time there was a period of relatively slower growth in health care spending, which was the mid-1990s. Then, as now, the nation was emerging from a recession. Also then, as now, the nation and a new president was embroiled in a national debate over rising health care costs and covering the uninsured. Health care spending's growth rate fell rapidly from an 11.9%increase in 1990 to 7.4% in 1993 to a trough of 5.3% in 1996 (Goozner, 1/5).

Politico: Recession Ballooned Medicaid Rolls
As the economy was stuck squarely in the economic doldrums during 2009, people who lost their jobs - and their private health insurance - joined the Medicaid program in droves, driving a 22% increase in federal spending on the program, according to the latest National Health Expenditures report (Coughlin, 1/6).

McClatchy: Health Care Spending Increase Is Smallest In 50 Years
U.S. health care spending in 2009 grew at the slowest rate in 50 years, as the recession and high unemployment caused outlays for nearly all medical goods and services to slow or decline, according to a new government report released Wednesday (Pugh, 1/5).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.