Retail medicine spending to remain stable share of overall health care spending through next decade

Holly Campbell   |     April 16, 2020   |   SHARE THIS

National Health Expenditure (NHE) data projections recently released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) indicate retail medicine spending grew 3.2% in 2019 and will continue to grow in line with overall health care spending through the next decade. This follows the release of the historical spending trends in December, which showed retail prescription drug spending grew 2.5% in 2018.


Other key findings include:

  • National health spending is projected to grow at an average of 5.4% annually between 2019 and 2028.

  • By 2028, total national health care spending is estimated to account for nearly 20% of gross domestic product (GDP) — up from 17.7% in 2018.

  • In 2019, spending on hospitals and spending on physician and clinical services increased by an estimated 5.1% and 4.4%, respectively.

  • Overall patient out-of-pocket spending is projected to have increased faster in 2019 compared to the prior year, growing an estimated 3.7% compared to 2.8% in 2018.

  • Each year, CMS projects spending on health care services, but in a February 2018 review of the accuracy of their projections, CMS found that the NHE estimates of retail medicine spending have often been significantly overestimated when compared to actual spending. Reflecting this continued trend, in last week’s release, CMS lowered their 2019 projection for retail prescription medicine spending growth from last year’s estimate of 4.6% to 3.2%.

Learn more at letstalkaboutcost.org.

Holly Campbell

Holly Campbell Holly Campbell is former deputy vice president of public affairs at PhRMA focusing on the cost and value of medicines. Prior to joining PhRMA, Holly worked for large and small public relations firms where she provided strategic communications counsel, media relations and partnership expertise to health care and pharmaceutical clients. In her free time, she enjoys taking barre classes, trying new restaurants and spending time with Boss and Poppy, her rescue pups.

Topics: Let's Talk About Cost

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