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Healthcare Spending Growth Hits 53-Year Low

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 7, 2014

Healthcare spending in 2012 grew more slowly than the growth of the overall economy, says CMS. While the Obama administration was quick to credit the healthcare reform law, federal actuaries cite other factors—chiefly the economic recession.

Healthcare spending grew 3.7% in 2012 to $2.8 trillion, marking the fourth straight year of relatively slow growth and the slowest sustained period of healthcare cost growth in the 53 years that the statistic has been tracked, the federal government announced on Monday afternoon.

An analysis by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services shows that the $2.8 trillion spent on healthcare in the United States in 2012 represented 17.2% of the gross domestic product. That's a decline from 17.3% of GDP in 2011 because healthcare spending in 2012 grew more slowly than the 4.6% growth in the overall economy. The report appears in the January issue of Health Affairs.

Obama Administration officials were quick to credit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for the slowest growth rates ever recorded in the 53-year history of the National Health Expenditure Accounts.

"For the second straight year, we have seen overall healthcare costs grow slower than the economy as a whole. This is good news," CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in prepared remarks. "We will continue to work with tools given to us by the Affordable Care Act that will both help us control costs for taxpayers and consumers while increasing the quality of care."

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