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Big slowdown in hospital spending growth

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The Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending reports that overall national health spending growth decreased in the second quarter to the lowest rate in 28 years – to an annualized 4 percent rate, even less than the 4.6 percent that Altarum had predicted for the quarter.

Altarum is a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization serving government, nonprofit and private-sector clients.

A major reason: Hospital second-quarter spending growth was a tiny annualized 1.3 percent rather than the expected 4 percent.

Altarum cited a growth in the number of insured patients and less hospital use for the slowdown.

And, Healthcare Dive noted: “In recent months, health insurance companies have looked to go further to reduce hospital utilization. Anthem, a major Blues insurer in 14 states, has led the way recently in creating policies to push members into getting care at less expensive locations rather than hospitals. Anthem said it will no longer pay for MRIs and CT scans at hospitals in 13 states unless Anthem deems it’s an emergency. Instead, the payer wants members to go less to expensive freestanding imaging centers.’’

“Anthem also recently announced it would no longer cover emergency department (ED) visits that it deems unnecessary in Missouri. Anthem has the same policy in Kentucky and Georgia which it may expand to more states. Anthem said the Kentucky policy has been in place since 2015 and has only denied a small percentage of ED claims.’’

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