U.S. health care spending increased 3.9% in 2010 following record slow growth of 3.8% in 2009; the two slowest rates of growth in the 51-year history of the National Health Expenditure Accounts, the official estimates of total health care spending in the United States issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Total health expenditures reached $2.6 trillion.
That is 17.9% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, unchanged from the previous year.
Hospital spending increased 4.9% to $814 billion in 2010, compared to 6.4% growth in 2009. Although hospital spending is growing, it is not accelerating as fast as it did between 2003 and 2006, when spending increased an average of 7.4%, according to the report. The report noted that growth in private health insurance spending for hospital services, which in 2010 accounted for 35% of all hospital care, slowed considerably in 2010.
Median in-patient hospital admissions declined and emergency department and outpatient hospital visits grew more slowly than in 2009, according to the report. It is not clear if these services were less because they were underutilized or unneeded.
Two categories that increased more than the overall growth rate were so-called “other health, residential, and personal care services and home health care.” Spending for these other health services grew 5.3% in 2010 to $128.5 billion. However, this was still a deceleration from the higher growth of 7.7% in 2009. This category includes expenditures for medical services delivered in non-traditional settings (such as schools or community centers), ambulance providers, and residential mental health and substance abuse facilities.