Since 2010, National Health Expenditures (NHE) have grown at an average annual rate of 3.8%. This represents the lowest rate on record for any four-year period* and is less than half of the average annual growth rate of 9.3% over the same timeframe. A key driver of this trend is the low rate of health care price inflation, for hospitals just 2.0% in 2013. Hospitals represent about a third of NHE.
These trends are leading to an improved long-term federal budget outlook. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections of future Medicare spending from 2014 through 2020 are down by more than a half a trillion dollars.
Health care cost growth typically slows during recessions, but the continuation of this trend well into the recovery suggests more factors at hand. A growing body of recent research points to the impact of structural changes in how health care is delivered and financed.