National health care spending decreased slightly as a share of the economy in 2012 due to higher growth in the U.S. gross domestic product. But use of health care services—including hospital care—was on the rise.(Shutterstock)
Health Care

Federal report finds health spending continued its slow climb in 2012.
By Clara Ritger
January 6, 2014

Growth in national health spending remained low for the fourth consecutive year, an annual federal report says.

Health care spending increased 3.7 percent in 2012 to $2.8 trillion, according to an analysis released Monday by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, marking the fourth consecutive year of the slowest rates recorded in the 53-year history of the National Health Expenditure Accounts.

Growth has slowed since 2009. In 2007, health care spending rose 6.3 percent. But since 2009 that growth rate has held between 3.6 and 3.8 percent.

While some researchers and economists have pointed to the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March of 2010, as a reason for the slow in health care spending, the economists at CMS were not quick to credit the president’s legacy health initiative.

“We spent as much as 0.1 percent more on health care between 2010 and 2012 due to the Affordable Care Act,” said CMS economist Anne Martin, the primary author of the study that was released in the January issue of Health Affairs.

The Affordable Care Act added roughly $5 billion to health care spending between 2010 and 2012, CMS said. With national health care spending topping $8 trillion, that total represents just a fraction of overall costs.

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