Kleinke says healthcare inflation has slowed over the last decade in large part because healthcare consumers have gotten smarter as their premiums, co-pays, and deductibles have risen.
"Healthcare inflation used to be double-digit, 10%–12% while the rest of the economy grew at 3%–4%," he says. "We are seeing the 'Costcoing' of healthcare." Starting with 2001, people are not demanding less care, they're getting smarter about it. They're using generic drugs. They're going to nurse practitioners. They're going to urgent care instead of the emergency room. The nature of a lot of healthcare purchasing is changing because of high deductibles."
Revised BLS figures show that healthcare created 17,600 jobs in December, finishing a strong year for job growth that saw 291,300 payroll additions in 2011. Healthcare accounted for nearly one in five new jobs in the overall economy last year, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows.
In 2011, ambulatory services, which include physicians' offices, accounted for 59% of the job growth in healthcare. The subsector created 7,500 jobs in December and 184,700 jobs in 2011, after creating 166,100 jobs in 2010.
"Where the growth is coming from is information technology," Kleinke says. "There are grants for that and huge initiatives to train people to install computer systems. That's a good thing. Hallelujah!"