Comparing Medicare and Private Insurers

Research Report

Comparing Medicare and Private Insurers

Growth Rates In Spending Over Three Decades


Over the past three decades both Medicare and private insurers have initiated cost containment mechanisms to control the growth of spending on personal health care. To compare spending growth between these two payers, we present four measurement principles that should be implemented when drawing such comparisons, and we apply them to the National Health Accounts data files. We attribute Medicare's ability to equal--and using our measures, actually exceedthe private sector in controlling the rate of health spending growth to Medicare's ability to price aggressively for the services it covers. (Health Affairs, March/April 2003; 22(2): 230-237). [view the corresponding press release.]

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