Health care tab will keep rising, federal study says
2 WASHINGTON >> Driven by rising prices for drugs and medical services, the nation’s health care tab will continue to outpace economic growth over the next decade, according to a new government report.
And by 2026, health care spending will account for almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy, an all-time record.
The new report, which was prepared by independent economists at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is widely regarded as an important measure of the nation’s health care system, echoes many recent warnings about rising costs.
At the same time, the report underscores the urgency of confronting the ever-growing burden that health care imposes on families and government.
The annual growth rate over the next decade is expected to average one percentage point more than overall economic growth.
That means that health care will expand from about 17.9 percent of the economy in 2016 to 19.7 percent of the economy in 2026.
Some of the increase reflects the fact that the U.S. population is aging and will therefore require more medical care, the authors note.
But the report concludes that the biggest drivers of rising spending are likely to be higher costs for care and, particularly, for prescription drugs. Spending on retail drugs is projected to increase 6.3 percent a year on average over the next decade.
As public outrage over the price of prescription drugs and medical services increases, there are growing calls by Democrats for more government regulation.
But Republicans oppose such efforts, instead backing plans to cut government health care assistance, which could restrain spending.