Trending Up: Growth In State Health Spending Outpaces Nation

A new report from the state Division of Health Care Finance and Policy shows that growth in health care spending in Massachusetts has far outpaced the nation.

Indeed, this substantial increase in spending is pretty startling. Consider some of reports key findings:

--Spending per member on privately insured people grew 6 percent from 2007 to 2008 and another 10 percent from 2008 to 2009. This rate of growth was substantially higher than the increase in national personal health care expenditures per capita of 4.6 percent from 2008 to 2009.

--Spending by private payers also grew faster than spending by public payers. The rate of growth for spending on privately insured people from 2007 to 2008 outpaced the growth in spending for Massachusetts residents in Medicare (4.8 percent) or MassHealth (2.8 percent) during the same time period.

Why is this happening?

Well, the report says that "faster growth in spending by private payers was largely the result of increasing prices. Growth in Medicare and MassHealth spending predominately reflected increases in service use, rather than growth in prices. "

All of these spending and price increases will presumably be addressed when the state holds "cost containment hearings" beginning June 27. In advance of the hearings, the Health Care Finance and Policy division has released several reports detailing cost trends and price disparities among hospitals.

This program aired on June 14, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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