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Health Affairs: Health Spending Slowdown Is Mostly Due To Economic Factors, Not Structural Change In The Health Care Sector

ABSTRACT: The source of the recent slowdown in health spending growth remains unclear. We used new and unique data on privately insured people to estimate the effect of the economic slowdown that began in December 2007 on the rate of growth in health spending. By exploiting regional variations in the severity of the slowdown, we determined that the economic slowdown explained approximately 70 percent of the slowdown in health spending growth for the people in our sample. This suggests that the recent decline is not primarily the result of structural changes in the health sector or of components of the Affordable Care Act, and that—absent other changes in the health care system—an economic recovery will result in increased health spending.