Rate of Health Care Spending Went Up to 4.6% in 2018

But a dip in health care as percentage of GDP
Peter Wehrwein

The American spending spree on health care is never ending, and it continued last year, unabated but not without some differences.

CMS released the annual national health care expenditure figures for 2018 this week, and they showed U.S. health care spending grew by 4.6%,  to $3.6 trillion, or $11,172 per person, last year. The rate of increase in 2017 was 4.2%.

However, the nation’s spending on health care as a percentage of GDP decreased slightly, from 17.9% in 2017 to 17.7% in 2018. That can be framed as good news if you're worried about health care “eating up” such a large slice of GDP because it is a reflection of the economy growing faster than the health care spending.

Price insurance spending increased 5.8%, to $1.2 trillion, which was faster than the 4.9% rate of growth in 2017. A CMS press release said the acceleration could be blamed partly on the reinstatement of the health insurance tax in 2018.

“The 6.7% increase in private health insurance costs per enrollee in 2018 was the highest since 2004. However, we are a still a long way from the double-digit increases that were common in decades past,” tweeted Larry Levitt.