Decline in Prescription-Drug Spending Slows Overall Health Spending

Thanks mostly to a downturn in the amount of money spent on prescription drugs, overall health spending in the nation grew at its slowest rate since 1998 in 2007, federal actuaries note.

The annual report issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services noted that health spending grew only about 6 percent in 2007, reaching only 2 and a quarter trillion dollars. The last time health spending reached only 6 percent was in 1998.

The reason for the slowed spending: a drastic dip in prescription-drug expenditures, whereas in 2006, there was an 8.6 percent growth in the amount spent on drugs, this dipped to just 4.9 percent in ’07. This represented the slowest growth in prescription drugs since 1963.

This was not totally bad news for the health consumer, however.  This slowed growth was partly due to the fact that more patients are buying generic drugs rather than their name-brand counterparts—and thus spending less money.

Still, at least part of the decline is said to be because consumers are concerned about warnings about the safety of some prescription drugs.

Nancy Nielson, President of the American Medical Association, said she welcomes the decline in health spending, since it indicates that people are trying—and succeeding at—getting the best deal from their health care spending.