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August 6, 2014

The Global Slowdown in Health Care Spending Growth

Author Affiliations
  • 1The Commonwealth Fund, New York, New York

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;312(5):485-486. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.7221

Increasing health care spending has been part of the US economy for decades, consuming an ever-increasing share of gross domestic product. However, in the past several years, the growth of US health spending has slowed to well below its historic norm.1 This slowdown in the rate of spending growth predates implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The causes of the slowdown in the growth of health care spending have been widely debated by researchers and policy makers. Does the slowdown reflect merely short-term effects of the financial crisis of 2007-2009 and subsequent years of slow economic growth? Have changes in the health care system more fundamentally altered the mid- and long-term cost trajectory?2 The implications matter, as a sustained slowdown in health care spending growth would significantly improve the US fiscal outlook.