Copyright 2003 The Commercial Appeal, Inc.
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)...01/08/2003
Scripps Howard News Service
Pushed by rising hospital and prescription drug costs and a rapidly expanding Medicaid program, Americans' health care spending soared 8.7 percent in 2001, the biggest increase in a decade.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid document, published today, shows that Americans spent more than $ 1.4 trillion on health care in 2001, the most recent year for which complete data are available.
That represents 14.1 percent of the gross domestic product and amounts to more than $ 5,000 in health-care spending for each American.
As most people with private health insurance know, health plans and employers are responding to spiking costs and premiums by demanding that insurees pay more of the expenses - if they're able to keep health insurance at all.
Although prescription drugs still represented just 10 percent of total health spending, they were the fastest-growing spending category.
The report, published in the journal Health Affairs, said several factors boosted health-care spending in 2001. Managed care's looser rules, begun in a booming economy with a tight labor market, continued to hold sway. Hospitals and physicians were generally able to negotiate better terms for themselves and patients.
At the same time, the recession, worsened by the terrorist attacks, put new strains on the health-care system, particularly Medicaid and children's health insurance programs.