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Selected research from leading health care experts whose findings have a direct bearing on public policies effecting medical progress. Research is chosen based on its quality and relevance by the Medical Progress Today editorial staff.

Selected Research

Health spending through 2015: changes on the horizon
Sheila Smith, Christine Borger, Health Affairs, 2-22-06

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics have released findings showing that, although the rate of health care spending has slowed recently, by 2015 U.S. health care spending is expected to rise to 20% of GDP.

In 2005 national health spending growth is expected to decelerate to 7.4 percent from 7.9 percent in 2004 … This is the third consecutive year of slowing spending growth since 2002. Underlying the projected 2005 slowdown is a projected dip in personal health care spending growth resulting from an anticipated slowdown in medical price inflation … We project that personal health care spending will edge down slightly in 2005 and 2006 and then will slow to 7.0 percent in 2007 as legislated Medicare payment adjustments are implemented.
Projected growth rebounds immediately to 7.5 percent in 2008, and then gradually decelerates for the remainder of the forecast, as health spending reacts to a slowdown in income. Despite the cyclical nature of the projection, national health spending growth is forecast to outpace GDP growth each year during the next decade, causing health’s share of GDP to rise from 16 percent in 2004 to 20 percent in 2015.

Giving consumers more control over their own health care spending would not only help to rein in U.S. health care spending, but reallocate national spending priorities more effectively. As long as government and employers allocate health care dollars, consumers operate under the illusion that health care, to borrow Milton Friedman’s metaphor, is a “free lunch.” This is, of course, very far from the truth, since employees “pay” for higher health care costs through lower incomes and higher insurance premiums, as well as through higher taxes to support programs like Medicare and Medicaid.



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