Government health spending seen hitting $1.8 trillion

Government health spending seen hitting $1.8 trillion

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON- (Reuters) – Gvernment spending for Medicare, Medicaid and other healthcare programs will more than double over the next decade to $1.8 trillion, or 7.3 percent of the country’s total economic output, congressional researchers said on Tuesday.

In its annual budget and economic outlook, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said that even under its most conservative projections, healthcare spending would rise by 8 percent a year from 2012 to 2022, mainly as a result of an aging U.S. population and rising treatment costs. It will continue to be a key driver of the U.S. budget deficit.

Medicare, the federal healthcare program for the elderly, accounts for about half the projected growth, with Medicaid at roughly one-third and the remainder attributed to new federal subsidies to help lower income Americans purchase insurance under President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare overhaul.

Spending is expected to dip this year to $847 billion, from $856 billion in 2011, because extra federal money to help cash-strapped states pay for Medicaid ended last July. The healthcare program for the poor, Medicaid is jointly funded by federal and state governments.

But researchers warned that the longer term prospects for rising healthcare spending could have dire consequences for the U.S. deficit when combined with the cost of Social Security, if current revenue levels remain unchanged.

Find out more about health spending at http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-usa-budget-healthcare-idINTRE80U25A20120131