Healthcare Spending Hits $3.2 Trillion in 2015

Healthcare spending in 2015 increased at a rate of 5.8%, the fastest in eight years, as more people obtained health insurance and prescription drug costs continued to rise, according to a CMS report published Friday by Health Affairs.

For the first time, the federal government accounted for the largest share of healthcare spending at 29%, mainly because of Medicaid expansion. Household spending made up 28%, private businesses were 20% and state and local governments were 17%.

Federal government spending grew at a rate of 8.9% in 2015 after an 11% increase in 2014.

The 2015 increase follows a 5.3% spending increase in 2014, which came after five years of historically slow growth. National healthcare expenditures represented nearly 18% of the GDP in 2015.

Spending in 2015 reached $3.2 trillion, or $9,990 per person. The report's authors predict continued growth in health spending over the next decadebecause of the aging population and continued medical price growth.

The report "casts further doubt on the extent of a permanent slowdown in health cost growth," said economist Eugene Steuerle of the nonpartisan Urban Institute.

Although the 9% increase in prescription drug spending was lower than the 2014 rate of 12.4%, it was the fastest growth of any service in 2015. This was mainly due to new, high-cost medications to treat hepatitis C, cancer and autoimmune disease.

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