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Feds shift Medicaid costs to states

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New health market figures show that private health insurers held spending growth down in 2012.

The figures also show that the federal government put some of its Medicaid spending burden on the shoulders of state and local governments that year.

Anne Martin, an economist in the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and other researchers in the office have included the figures in the government’s latest national health expenditures accounts report.

Total national health expenditures increased 3.7 percent in 2012, to $2.8 trillion.

Spending growth was up slightly from 3.6 percent, but about the same as it’s been since 2009.

Overall gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.6 percent.

Private health insurers spending increased 3.2 percent, to $917 billion.

The only major source of payments that spent less in 2012 was the federal Medicaid funding program. Federal Medicaid spending fell 4.2 percent, to $238 billion.

State and local governments increased their spending on Medicaid 15 percent, to $183 billion. The major payer with the second highest spending growth rate, Medicare, had a spending growth rate of just 4.8 percent.

The researchers also found that spending on health insurance grew at a moderate rate.

The net cost of health insurance — the difference between the amount consumers, employers and others paid for health insurance and the amount carriers spent on health care — increased 4.2 percent, to $164 billion. The rate of growth was down from 4.5 percent in 2011 and 10.4 percent in 2010, but it was up from a 1.8 percent decrease in 2009.

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