- A federal audit released on Wednesday shows that spending on healthcare by businesses, households and the government slowed to a record rate in 2013, rising only 3.6% to $2.9 trillion.
- 2013 represents the fifth consecutive year that healthcare spending has grown by less than 5%.
- Healthcare spending represented 17.4% of the U.S. economy in 2013, the same as the previous year.
Don't get too excited. Since wages have stagnated at the same time that spending growth was slowing, this doesn't necessarily mean that affording healthcare has gotten significantly easier—especially since high-deductible plans are increasingly shifting the cost burden onto consumers.
"The fact that health care spending growth has been so low for a number of years now does trickle down to what people themselves are actually paying out of their own pockets," said Kaiser Family Foundation senior VP Larry Levitt. "The problem is, even when health care spending is growing so slowly like this, when people’s incomes are stagnating, it still doesn't necessarily feel so good."
The independent CMS office that performed the audit, Office of the Actuary, doesn't expect the slow-down to continue unto perpetuity, but rather that spending will jump by over 5% to $3.1 trillion in 2014 as a result of federal subsidies and expanded Medicaid.