Nursing home care in September once again represented one of the fastest-growing categories of national health spending, second only to spending on prescription drugs, according to Altarum’s monthly Health Sector Economics Brief, released Friday. 

Spending on nursing home care has increased 9.8% since September 2022, “a result of increases in both prices and utilization,” Altarum fellow and Senior Researcher George Miller told the McKnight’s Business Daily.

Spending on home care, on the other hand, showed the slowest growth rate among major categories of national health spending, increasing just 5.5% in September, he noted.

“This was in spite of the fact that home healthcare prices have been growing at a rate that is among the fastest among the major categories, increasing by 4.6%, year over year, in October,” Miller said. “The relatively low increase in spending was instead due to a slight decline in utilization of home healthcare services.”

Year-over-year spending growth among the other major healthcare categories, according to the report: prescription drugs (11.8%), dental care (9.8%), physician and clinical services (8.9%) and hospital care (6.9%).

National health spending overall increased 5.7%, year over year, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $4.78 trillion, accounting for 17.2% of gross domestic product.

“While the GDP growth rate continues to outpace the growth in total health spending, personal healthcare spending (spending on healthcare goods and services, which excludes categories such as the net cost of insurance and public health expenditures) has grown at a rate faster than GDP since February 2023 and grew by 7.4%, year over year, in September,” according to the brief.

“Nursing homes showed modest employment growth in October, adding 4,400 jobs. Our just-released blog characterizes nursing home staffing trends through the COVID-19 pandemic and compares recent staffing levels with the federal government’s newly proposed staffing requirements for nursing homes,” Miller said. “At the same time, home healthcare added 9,500 jobs in October, slightly above the monthly average over the past year.”