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New Report Shows Growth in Healthcare Prices Near All-Time Low

In the past year, from September of 2016 to September of 2017, healthcare prices have risen a scant 1.1%, which is the slowest rate of growth in the past two years according to a new report from Altarum.  That rate of growth is just barely higher than the all-time low of .9% which happened in 2015.  Since that point in time, that number has fluctuated between 1.2% and 2.3%.

The report points out that such a small increase in healthcare prices was likely due to a drop in prescription drug prices recently.  Growth in prescription drug prices has dropped to 1.4% in September from 2.7% in August.  

The report also found that total healthcare spending was 4.3% higher in September in comparison with the same month the previous year.  The expected growth of the healthcare industry for 2017 is forecast at 4.5%.  This rise in healthcare spending is viewed as modest in an industry known for heavy spending.

At the beginning of the century, in the early 2000’s, growth in healthcare spending was normally about 10%; however, the numbers have been declining significantly in recent years.  One reason for such a dip is likely the move from inpatient care previously to an outpatient setting according to analyzation from the creators of the Altarum report.

Publishers of the report point out that the trend in healthcare is moving away from inpatient healthcare and toward the outpatient care model.  Even employment numbers are demonstrating the same trend.  Hospitals have recently slowed their hiring this year in comparison with recent years.  On average, hospitals are likely to add about 5,000 new jobs per month in 2017.  This is about half the hires in the previous two years based on data from the report.

One report analyst pointed out that the slowdown of hiring at hospitals could simply be a return to previous healthcare industry patterns after several years of strong hiring gains resulting from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Another analyst pointed out that a slowdown in hiring is most likely the best way to control healthcare spending because that is typically where most of the money is spent; payroll for employees.

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