ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
CANCER
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
With Age Comes Greater Risk of Hypothermia
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Blueberry Drink Protects Mice From Obesity, Diabetes
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
EYE CARE, VISION
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Any Old Cane Won't Do
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
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Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.

TUESDAY, Feb. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Although millions of Americans have lost their jobs -- and their health insurance -- during the current recession, health care spending in the United States is expected to have its largest single-year increase in 2009.

That's the surprising conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

"Private spending [spending by private health insurance] is expected to slow in 2008-2009 to a 15-year low due to the impact of the recession" as more people lose their jobs and with them, their employer-based health insurance, CMS economist Andrea Sisko, one of the authors of the government report, said during a Monday teleconference. "Conversely, public spending growth is expected to accelerate through 2009, in part, due to increased Medicaid enrollment and expenditures, something that is typically seen in a recession."

Sisko noted the projections did not take into account the recently enacted $787 billion stimulus package or the 2010 federal budget proposal, to be unveiled Thursday by President Barack Obama, or any health care reforms that might be proposed by the new administration.

The report by economists from CMS, titled Health Spending Projections Through 2018: Recession Effects Add Uncertainty To The Outlook, was published in the Feb. 24 online edition of Health Affairs.

The release of the CMS report comes on the same day as a new report from the U.S. Institute of Medicine that calls for President Barack Obama and Congress to come up with solutions for the 45.7 million Americans not covered by health insurance and to find ways to stem the tide of growing health care costs.

And in a televised address Tuesday night, Obama plans to outline his goals for his first year in office, including his pledge to reform health care. The White House says the President believes that out-of-control costs are the main obstacle to providing insurance coverage for all.

The new CMS report seeks to project health care spending for the next 10 years.

For instance, by 2018 health care spending is projected to reach $4.4 trillion -- accounting for 20.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). In 2008, health care spending reached 16.6 percent of GDP. In 2009, health care's share of GDP is expected to reach 17.6 percent of GDP, the largest one-year increase ever seen, the report said.

As spending by private health care insurance reaches a 15-year low as more people lose their jobs, spending by the federal and state governments is expected to grow from $1 trillion in 2008 to $1.2 trillion in 2009, an increase of 7.4 percent. This growth is being fueled by more people losing their jobs and then electing to sign up for Medicaid, the report authors said.

Once the recession starts to ease next year, there should be an upturn in both private and public health care spending, according to the report. Starting in 2010, private health care spending is expected to rise by 4.2 percent and increase to 6.1 percent in 2018, Sisko said.

Among the report's highlights:

* Medicare spending grew 8.1 percent from 2007 to 2008, driven largely by growth in prescription drug spending as well as hospital, doctor and administrative costs.
* In the near term, spending on prescription drugs is expected to slow, but then double between 2014 and 2018.
* The recession is expected to slow the growth of out-of-pocket spending by consumers, a trend typically seen during an economic downturn. Also, growing Medicaid rolls will reduce out-of-pocket spending since these out-of-pocket costs are typically lower for Medicaid recipients.
* Public spending is expected to rise as more baby boomers enroll in Medicare. That growth in public health care spending is projected to reach 7.2 percent a year by 2018 and account for more than half of all health care spending.
* Nursing home spending is expected to increase to a 6.6 percent annual rate by 2018 as more people enroll in Medicare and Medicaid.

One expert thinks the CMS report reflects the true impact of the recession on health care.

"This just shows you that hard times affect people's ability to obtain health care," said Paul Precht, director for policy and communications at the Medicare Rights Center. "If it weren't for Medicaid, it would be a lot worse."

An estimated 14,000 Americans are losing their health insurance each day during the recession. In response, the Institute of Medicine report, America's Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care, urges President Obama and Congress to immediately put into place programs to achieve health coverage for all Americans. The report also said costs need to be controlled to ensure that health care is affordable for everyone.

"Policymakers and the public can no longer presume that those without health insurance are getting the care they need through safety-net services such as charity care and emergency departments," Institute of Medicine Committee Chairman Lawrence S. Lewin, an executive consultant in health care policy and management, said in a statement. "The evidence clearly shows that lack of health insurance is hazardous to one's health, and the situation is getting worse because of the erosion of employment-based health coverage due to the current economic crisis. The nation must act now to solve the uninsurance problem."

More information

To read the full CMS report, visit Health Affairs.



SOURCES: Paul Precht, director, policy and communications, Medicare Rights Center, Washington, D.C.; Feb. 23, 2009, teleconference with Andrea Sisko, economist, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Baltimore; Feb. 24, 2009, Health Affairs; Feb. 24, 2009, Institute of Medicine, America's Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care

Last Updated: Feb. 24, 2009

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