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Healthcare Spending Continues to Rise

As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more people have health insurance than in previous years. The increase in the number of newly insured Americans and corresponding uptrend in healthcare spending are creating a significant number of new nursing jobs.

A Rapidly Expanding Industry

The rapidly increasing demand for healthcare services has turned healthcare into a trillion-dollar industry. In fact, healthcare made up 17.8 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product in 2015. The accelerated growth rate is not expected to plateau or drop anytime soon. Experts project that by 2025, healthcare will make up 20.1 percent of the gross domestic product, partly because of increasing numbers of people with Medicare coverage who need healthcare for chronic conditions. According to economists with the U.S. government, healthcare spending is expected to increase by an average of 5.8 percent per year during the upcoming decade.

Job Growth

The strong demand for healthcare services, coupled with healthcare being a sizable industry, has created many new jobs in healthcare. Projections for 2015 and 2016 placed the number of new healthcare jobs at 900,000, with a large percentage of those being nursing jobs. In addition, by the end of 2017, healthcare spending is expected to grow even more with greater numbers of people receiving health coverage from their employers, according to

Nursing and Other Healthcare Jobs in Demand

Registered Nurse (RN)

The job outlook for RNs is expected to grow 16 percent through 2024. To open more career opportunities and earn higher salaries, many nurses are adding to their education with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an online program.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Employment in LPN jobs is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is more than double the rate for all occupations combined.

Physician Assistant (PA)

The employment rate for these positions is expected to grow about 30 percent between 2014 and 2024, more than four times the rate for all occupations combined.

Physical Therapy Assistant

The growth rate and demand for PAs is impressive, but job prospects for physical therapy assistants is even better going into the future. Employment is expected to grow by a staggering 40 percent between 2014 and 2024.

Analyzing Spending

Consumers accounted for approximately 10.6 percent of national healthcare spending in 2015 as they are paying for more of their healthcare expenses out of pocket. This results in part from consumers choosing high-deductible insurance plans because the premiums on lower-deductible plans cost more. With higher deductibles, they pay more out of pocket and contribute more to healthcare spending totals.

Another area of healthcare spending is prescription drug costs; consumers spent 8.1 percent more on medications in 2016 over 2015.

Health Coverage Spending

In 2015, those who had private insurance each spent an average of $5,380 on healthcare, and Medicare paid close to $12,000 per enrolled patient. Medicaid programs paid $8,000 per enrolled member, which was a 5.7 percent increase over the previous year.

Overall, increased healthcare spending has been coming from multiple sources: government agencies, employers and consumers. Only time will tell, but according to many experts, spending is not likely to slow down anytime soon. If anything, it could continue to increase, especially as Baby Boomers retire and become eligible for Medicare. Because the creation of nursing jobs constitutes a significant portion of healthcare spending, nurses can anticipate a healthy job market and a robust demand for their services in the years to come.

Learn about the Purdue Northwest online RN to BSN program.


Modern Healthcare: Healthcare Spending Growth Rate Rises Again in 2015

U.S. News & World Report: Health Care Costs Set to Top $10k Per Person

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physician Assistants

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

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