Crunching the Numbers

Report details projected national healthcare expenditures

(RxWiki News) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary has released a report outlining national health care expenditures.

Overall national health care costs increased 4 percent to a total of $2.5 trillion in 2009, the smallest annual increase in 25 years. On the other hand, combined federal and state Medicaid spending jumped 9 percent in 2009 for a 5 percent increase over what was spent in 2008. Federal Medicaid spending accounted for much of the increase, rising 22 percent. State Medicaid spending decreased some 9.8 percent.

The report also found that 6.3 million individuals lost private health insurance in 2009 while healthcare expenditures rose 1 percent -- for a total of 17.6 percent -- as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Job losses accounted for a majority of losses in employer-sponsored health coverage, which meant increased reliance on Medicaid and forced some Americans to forego health services altogether.

Some recently unemployed workers have been able to take advantage of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which allows workers and their families who lose health benefits the option to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan. The option is available for limited periods of time (generally up to 18 months) under certain circumstances, such as job loss, hourly work reduction, transitions between jobs, death and divorce.

According to the United States Department of Labor, COBRA premiums cannot exceed 102 percent of plan costs for individuals in similar situations "who have not incurred a qualifying event."

Review Date: 
January 11, 2011