Health care spending was slightly higher in 2015 than it was in 2014, an increase that researchers attribute to the newly insured under Obamacare using more medical services.
National health care spending rose 5.8 percent last year, reaching $3.2 trillion, according to new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services figures published Friday in Health Affairs. Spending in 2014 grew 5.3 percent, following historically low health care spending between 2009 and 2013.
The increase in the rate of growth was attributed to people using health services more frequently, thanks to the fact that millions more have insurance under Obamacare. Spending for private insurance, hospital care, and physician and clinical services all increased. Medicaid spending and retail prescription drug spending was less of a factor last year than both categories were in 2014, according to the report.
“Our significant progress in reducing the nation’s uninsured rate, while providing strong protections for Americans if they get sick, would not be possible without the Affordable Care Act,” CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said in a statement. “As millions more Americans have obtained health insurance, per-person cost growth remains at historically modest levels.”
Overall, private health insurance spending grew 7.2 percent last year, reaching $1.1 trillion. Medicare spending, which amounts to 20 percent of all national health care spending, grew 4.5 percent to $646.2 billion, while Medicaid spending slowed to 5.7 percent last year. Medicaid spending in 2015 totaled $545.1 billion, or 17 percent of national health care spending.
Retail spending on prescription drugs slowed compared to the prior year, but still outpaced the growth of overall spending on health care. In 2015, spending on retail prescription drugs grew 9 percent, compared to 12.4 percent the previous year, and reached $324.6 billion.