6 key points on healthcare spending trends

Here are six key observations on healthcare spending from Altarum Institute Center for Sustainable Health Spending's Health Sector Trend Report released in January:

•    Healthcare spending through the third quarter of 2014 grew at an annual rate of 5 percent, up from the 3.6 percent growth rate in 2013.
•    This acceleration was driven mainly by higher spending on prescription drugs.
•    There are indications of a jump in the third quarter, when spending on services increased by 5.4 percent as compared to the third quarter of 2013.
•    If the third-quarter jump in services spending is repeated in the fourth quarter, national health expenditures for the second half of 2014 will have grown at about 6 percent annual rate, compared to about 4.7 percent growth during the first half.
•    Prices of healthcare goods and services grew 1.5 percent in 2014, compared to 1.3 percent in 2013.
•    However, prices for healthcare services alone showed the opposite pattern, with growth falling from 1.5 percent in 2013 to 1.3 percent in 2014.

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