by Jinghong Chen

Medicare and Medicaid are better than private insurance at containing per-beneficiary health spending growth, according to a recent analysis published by the Urban Institute. The report says that from 2006 to 2017, per-enrollee spending grew 2.4% in Medicare, 1.6% in Medicaid and 4.4% in private plans annually. While the overall spending growth in the two federal programs is higher than in private plans — Medicare rose 5.2% per year and Medicaid 6.0%, compared to 4.4% in private programs — the report attributes it to faster enrollment growth in public programs. Prescription drug spending was the major driver of growth in Medicare spending per enrollee from 2006 to 2017, while in Medicaid, the major component of growth was spending on physician services.

NOTES: Prescription drug spending is adjusted for rebates. Other services include dental; durable medical equipment; nondurable medical products; offices of other health practitioners including chiropractors, optometrists, and mental health practitioners (except physicians); offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists; audiologists; podiatrists; and all other health practitioners.

SOURCE: Slow Growth in Medicare and Medicaid Spending per Enrollee Has Implications for Policy Debates, Urban Institute. Visit