CMS: Health spending to hit $5.2T within 10 years

U.S. healthcare spending will rise to $5.2 trillion by 2023 as the economy grows and baby boomers become eligible for Medicare, government actuaries said Wednesday. 

The new forecast from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showed total health spending will rise to about one-fifth of the economy in nine years compared with 17.2 percent in 2012. 

The upswing will follow near historically slow growth in health spending during the economic recession. 

CMS officials projected 3.6 percent growth for 2013 and 5.6 percent for 2014, with an average rate of 5.7 percent growth over the next decade. 

"The acceleration … is commensurate with projected economic growth," said Andrea Sisko, an economist in the CMS Office of the Actuary. 

"A demographic shift is also occurring over that period of time with baby boomers coming into Medicare."

The shift will also coincide with the expansion of insurance coverage under ObamaCare, another factor that will raise healthcare spending. 

While the rise will be pronounced, actuaries said it pales in comparison to the late 1990s, when the growth in health spending was outpacing GDP.

Health spending grew at an average annual rate of 7.2 percent between 1990 and 2008, the report stated.

The CMS forecast encompasses all healthcare spending, not just money paid by the government for Medicare and Medicaid.

The 10-year cost of those programs was recently revised downward by $49 billion and $40 billion, respectively, or about 1 percent. 

Wednesday's report was published in the journal Health Affairs.

Updated at 4:05 p.m.