Tags: OECD | United States | Health | Spending

OECD: US Health Spending Slows to Resemble Other Developed Nations

Monday, 30 June 2014 07:01 PM

The slowdown in U.S. healthcare spending during the past decade is bringing the rate of growth closer to that of other developed countries, a study found.

Growth in per-person healthcare spending in the U.S. fell to 1.4 percent in 2011, more in line with similar countries, from about 7 percent in 2002, when most other advanced nations experienced about 3 percent growth.

The study, by researchers from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, analyzed data from five other OECD nations, including Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The declining growth rate coincided with a long, severe recession and U.S. healthcare policies aimed at reducing drug costs and reining in physician reimbursements, researchers said. Still, at $7,212 per person, the U.S. continues to spend more than any other developed country on healthcare, with 17 percent of GDP going toward medical costs, according to the study published Monday in The Lancet, a medical journal.

“There is a risk there that there will be a spending uptick in healthcare spending as a result of the economic recovery,” said OECD health division researcher Luca Lorenzoni, in a telephone interview. “More and bigger efforts are needed to keep up with this trend and to prevent a reversal of this slowdown.”

The average health expenditure growth per person was 2.2 percent in Germany during the 2010-2011 period, 1.4 percent in Switzerland, 1.1 percent in the Netherlands and 0.8 percent in France and Canada, according to the report. That brought per person health spending to $4,338 in Switzerland, $4,110 in the Netherlands, $3,808 in Germany, $3,359 in France and $3,796 in Canada.

2012 Trend

Some data for 2012 health spending released Monday by the OECD confirms that the U.S. continues to move closer to other developed countries’ rate of growth, Lorenzoni said. In 2012, health spending grew by 2.1 percent in the U.S., slightly above the OECD average.

Much of the higher U.S. spending on healthcare can be attributed to higher costs, Lorenzoni said. Price levels rising more slowly accounted for part of the drop in health expenditures, including greater use of generic drugs, a shift to more outpatient care and flat payment rates to doctors.

Despite the high level of spending on healthcare, outcomes in the U.S. are no better than in other countries, Lorenzoni said. Further research is needed to understand the link between spending and how well patients do, he said.

“We did not see that the quality of care, which also includes the health status of the population, could explain the high health sector spending,” he said.

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The slowdown in U.S. health care spending during the past decade is bringing the rate of growth closer to that of other developed countries, a study found.
OECD, United States, Health, Spending
Monday, 30 June 2014 07:01 PM
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