The healthcare spending came under the federal scanner, which has pointed out a 4% decline in healthcare expenditures by residents of the United States.
The Department of Health and Human Service has attributed this drop - from 28 percent to 24 percent during the period 1996 to 2003- to the spiraling growth in expenditures on prescription drugs, as opposed to hospital inpatient care.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Health Affairs has explained that during 1996 and 2003, spending on prescription medicines increased by 125 percent, after taking inflation into account. On the contrary, expenditure for inpatient hospital care rose only by 11 percent. Expenditures for prescription medicine amounted to 20 percent of total medical care expenditures in 2003; in 1996, this expenditure was only 12%.
Medicare's Part D drug benefit is thought to spur a rise in prescription drug spending; however its influence on total healthcare was still unclear to researchers.
The research will be available in the February issue of the journal Health Affairs.