Public health spending in U.S. declines since Affordable Care Act passage

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 - healthcare spending

Public health spending has declined since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, according to an analysis.

Researchers David U. Himmelstein, MD, and Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH, of the City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College, published their results online in the American Journal of Public Health on Nov. 12.

They analyzed data from the National Health Expenditure Accounts, which is compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and from the U.S. Census Bureau.

They found that inflation-adjusted, per-capita health spending increased from $39 in 1960 to $281 in 2008. However, since then, it has decreased by 9.3 percent. Meanwhile, public health accounted for 1.36 percent of total health expenditures in 1960 compared with 3.18 percent in 2002. In 2014, public health’s share of total health expenditures decreased to 2.65 percent, and it is projected to decrease to 2.40 percent in 2023.

If inflation-adjusted, per-capita health spending had remained at the 2008 level, the researchers noted that the U.S. would have had an additional $40.2 billion in public health funding between 2009 and 2014.

“Our health care system is dangerously out of balance,” Woolhandler said in a news release. “We’re spending more and more treating disease, but less and less to prevent it. We’re breaking the bank paying for hepatitis C and cancer drugs, while drug abuse prevention, needle exchange programs and anti-smoking campaigns are starved for funds.”