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National Health Spending Plunged 24% in April Compared With 2019

Yuval Rosenberg

As the coronavirus pandemic spread and much normal activity was halted, national health spending in April fell by 24.3% compared to the previous April, according to an analysis by consulting firm Altarum. Health spending in April was $2.88 trillion (seasonally adjusted annual rate), down from $3.57 trillion in March and $3.8 trillion in April 2019.

“While March 2020 exhibited the only previous occurrence in our historical time series (which goes back to 1989) of a monthly decline from the previous year, the April reading dwarfs the March value,” the report says.

Spending on hospitals and doctors fell by more than 40%, reaching the lowest monthly levels in more than a decade. Spending on dental services, meanwhile, fell by more than 60% year over year.

The only health care areas to see increased spending were nursing home care and prescription drugs, which rose 6.3% and 5.1%, respectively. Altarum’s analysts say that, with the economy starting to reopen in May, they expect to see the declines in spending reverse.

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