(HealthDay News) — The growth in U.S. health care expenditure has slowed in recent years, coming some way toward closing the gap with other countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to an article in the health of Americans series published online in The Lancet.

Noting that health care expenditure growth has slowed dramatically in the United States in recent years, Luca Lorenzoni, from the OECD in Paris, and colleagues reviewed expenditure trends and key policies in the United States and five other high-spending OECD countries since 2000.

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The authors noted that much of the difference between the United States and other high-spending counties can be explained by higher health-sector prices, and that price dynamics are mainly responsible for the expenditure growth slowdown.

Expenditure growth was similar in the United States and in other counties, although other countries did not face the same challenges in health coverage and could draw from a broader set of policies to control expenditure.

Some of the factors responsible for the slowdown in health care expenditure included increasing rate of generic drug use, a shift from inpatient to outpatient hospital care, and price control measures.

“Tightening Medicare and Medicaid price controls on plans and providers, and leveraging the scale of the public programs to increase efficiency in financing and care delivery, might prevent a future economic recovery from offsetting the slowdown in health sector prices and expenditure growth,” the researchers wrote.

Reference

  1. Lorenzoni L, Belloni A, Sassi F. Health-care expenditure and health policy in the USA versus other high-spending OECD countries. Lancet. 2014;doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60571-7.