Blog | Thursday, January 6, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Flu cases rose significantly during the holidays

You are not alone in being sick over the holidays. If you and everyone you know came down with something, well, so did the rest of the country. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, New York and Virginia all reported widespread flu, 13 others reported regional outbreaks and nine more reported local outbreaks. New York City saw an uptick from 300 cases a day to 500 just as Christmas arrived. (CDC, CBS New York)

Health care costs
Health care spending grew in 2009 at its slowest rate since 1938, according to a report published in Health Affairs.

The last time America saw such a slow growth rate on health spending, it was still emerging from the Great Depression and hadn't yet entered World War II. The most recent recession is also the cause for the health spending figures, according to the annual report, released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The report shows that the recession left a deeper impact than previous ones.

Health care spending grew 4% to $2.5 trillion, outpacing the rest of the still recovering economy. Authors wrote that the recession contributed to slower growth in private health insurance spending and out-of-pocket spending by consumers, as well as a reduction in capital investments by health care providers. Enrollment in private health insurance fell by 6.3 million people.

That's still 17.6% of the U.S. economy in 2009, which reflects the effects of the recession on the economy and the effects of more Medicaid spending, which rose nearly 22% last year as part of the economic stimulus and to cover state deficits. (Health Affairs, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal)