What Medical Conditions Drove The Slowdown? An Analysis Using the BEA’s New Health Care Account

Tuesday, June 14, 2016: 10:35 AM
G60 (Huntsman Hall)

Author(s): Abe Dunn; Lindsey Rittmueller; Bryn Whitmire

Discussant: Samuel H. Zuvekas

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) last year released a new experimental account that tracks national health care spending by medical condition. These statistics improve upon our understanding of the health sector by blending together both medical claims data and survey data to present measures of national spending and cost of treatment by condition. This paper introduces key aspects of this new account and uses it to study the spending slowdown that occurred during 2000-10. The account reveals that the slowdown was driven by a reduction in cost per case growth, but that spending trends varied greatly across conditions and differentially affected the slowdown. Over half of the overall slowdown was accounted for by circulatory conditions. However, disease categories including diabetes, back problems, and preventative services saw more dramatic rates of slowdown than other categories including conditions such as cancers and gastrointestinal disorders. In contrast, categories that include migraines, depression, and trauma showed acceleration in spending.