Health costs continue to rise Spending expected to be 11% higher.

December 30, 1991|By New York Times

The Commerce Department's report on national spending on health today was expected to show an 11 percent in 1991 over the previous year, the fifth consecutive double-digit annual increase.

The report said spending on health care for 1991 was $738 billion, based on data collected for the first eleven months of 1991 and a projection for December. The department also predicted that health care spending would be $817 billion in 1992 and that such expenditures would rise at an average annual rate of 12 percent to 13 percent over the next five years.

The figures appear in the department's U.S. Industrial Outlook for 1992.

Because of slow economic growth, the report projects, the proportion of the nation's total output of goods and services that is represented by health care will rise to a record 14 percent in 1992, slightly more than the 1991 level.

The rise in the costs of health care, largely responsible for the increase, is the subject of much concern nationally, and many proposals in Congress have been put forward to halt the increase and to extend health insurance to cover the 34 million people who are now believed to be without it.

The report cited several reasons for the rising costs, including the aging of the population, increases in doctors' fees, the high cost and increased use of high-technology equipment and the growth in the use of psychiatric care.

In addition it noted more than 600,000 jobs were created in doctors'offices and hospitals between 1988 and 1990,accounting for some of the increase.

But one factor in the cost of health care has been falling, the report said: malpractice claims. The Commerce Department reported that the number of malpractice claims has dropped steadily, to eight claims for every 100 doctors in 1989, the last year for which data are available, from 17.8 claims in 1985.

In an analysis of the figures,a health advocacy group in Washington,Public Citizen Health Research Group,pointed to growth in employment as one of the most significant trends.

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