Health spending slows

WASHINGTON – U.S. health care spending rose at the second-lowest rate on record in 2010 as consumers avoided going to the doctor, taking expensive prescription drugs and undergoing costly elective procedures.

Public and private health care spending totaled $2.6 trillion, representing 17.9 percent of the U.S. economy, the same proportion as in 2009, according to a government report released Monday. That was a sharp departure from previous years, when health care costs accounted for ever-larger proportions of the economy.

Analysts said spending was likely to pick up as the economy improved and the 2010 health care law begins to expand coverage to millions of people who are now uninsured.

Health care spending rose 3.8 percent in 2009, the smallest rise in the 51 years that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has been tracking the data. It rose 3.9 percent in 2010.


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