A new study finds that the cost of health care in the United States increased nearly $1 trillion from 1996 to 2013 and measures the causes behind this immense growth.
The study, published today in JAMA, reveals that price and “intensity” (variety and complexity) of services accounted for 50% of the increase.
“Part of the reason we spend more on health care each year is the nation’s growing and aging population,” said Dr. Joseph Dieleman of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and lead author of the study. “But factors relating to the health system, such as increased price, intensity, and utilization, are driving most of the spending increase.”
Five factors contribute to the rise in health care costs in the US: (1) more people; (2) an aging population; (3) changes in disease prevalence or incidence; (4) increases in how often people use health care services; and (5) increases in the price and intensity of services. This research measures the impact of these different drivers on the total increase in health care spending and for the increases caused by specific health conditions and types of care.
The study covers health care spending for individuals and includes spending on inpatient care, outpatient care, nursing facilities, emergency departments, dental care, and such as private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and households’ own spending.
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