May 10—The slowdown in health spending growth over the last decade was likely driven by changes in response to declines in real incomes and the shifting distribution of health insurance coverage, according to an Urban Institute report.

The report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that from 2000 to 2011, healthcare spending growth began to slow well before the most recent recession. In contrast to findings from some recent studies, the authors found little concrete evidence to support the argument that structural changes have been major drivers of recent spending trends. For example, although salaried employment of physicians may promote efficiency gains, some fear increased market power could lead to higher prices and costs, according to the authors. 

The authors also indicate medical homes and accountable care organizations likely did not have sufficient market penetration to contribute to slower cost growth in the early part of the last decade, nor is it likely the Affordable Care Act’s cost-containment provisions have had any meaningful effect on spending growth in 2010 or 2011.

Publication Date: Friday, May 10, 2013