Two new studies published this week in the journal Health Affairs indicate a significant slowdown in national health spending in recent years (“Health Care Cost Growth May Be Slowing Long-Term, New Studies Show” Forbes, May 7, 2013).
In one study, Harvard researchers found that between 2009 and 2011, health care spending grew about 3 percent a year, compared to 5.9 percent annual growth in the decade before. Researchers concluded that the slowdown was created by more factors than just the recession, giving them optimism that the trend may continue. A companion study by Harvard economists concludes that if that trend holds through 2022, the federal government would spend as much as $770 billion less than has been anticipated.
In analysis also published in Health Affairs, Harvard professor David Cutler said the slowdown in health spending was caused in part by the recession, by also by slower advances in medical technology and the growth of health plans that shift more costs to consumers.