Consumers are turning to generic prescription drugs and home health care to save, according to the report, “Growth In U.S. Spending Remained Slow in 2010; Health Share Of Gross Domestic Product Unchanged From 2009.”The lag in health spending is due to a variety of factors, including the recent recession, a high unemployment rate, and a decrease in health insurance coverage.
Health care spending reached $8,402 per person ($2.6 trillion total) in 2010, a 0.1 percentage point increase (3.9 per cent) than the record low the year before.
Total retail prescription drug spending grew 1.2 per cent in 2010, as more people opted for affordable generic medication. With fewer new drugs available on the market than in previous years, consumers are even less inclined to spend, the study says.
Home health care was one of the fastest growing services in 2010. Americans spent 6.2 per cent more on home health care services like nursing and personal care, for a total of $70.2 billion. These services have been described as better alternatives to institutional care. (See how boomers are revamping their homes to stay out of nursing facilities)
While it’s difficult to determine how health care spending will change in the next year, the government might make it easier for consumers to afford the care they need. Federal and state Medicaid has already increased (by both 8.9 and 3.9 per cent, respectively) thanks to $41 billion of federal aid given to the states. And new laws might allow for faster generic drug delivery, increasing availability to consumers.
The report was compiled using data from the National Health Expenditure Accounts.