Health-Cost Pause Nears End - Americans Boost Spending on Doctors, Tests as More Regain Job-Based Insurance . Health spending accounts for one-sixth of the national economy and is the biggest long-term driver of federal spending growth.
U.S. health-care spending grew at a record low pace for a third consecutive year in 2011, according to federal figures released Monday, but signs are emerging that the slow growth may not last.
Growth in spending on doctors' visits and prescription drugs rose in 2011, while hospital spending continued to slow, the figures showed. Government actuaries said they believed those changes reflected people regaining health coverage through their jobs.
In 2014, Americans are expected to use more health services when millions gain health insurance and greater access to medical care as part of the federal health overhaul. The U.S. figures suggest there had been little impact on spending as a result of the law in 2011, when few of its provisions had taken effect.
Monday's figures give new insight into the drivers of health spending. Health expenditures totaled $2.7 trillion in 2011, up from $2.6 trillion in 2010. Health spending accounts for one-sixth of the national economy and is the biggest long-term driver of federal spending growth.
Medical providers say the impact of the recession was rapidly seen in their practices in 2009 and 2010. Surveys by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found around one in 10 respondents reported delaying needed medical care for cost reasons in that time.