U.S. healthcare spending hit $1.6 trillion in 2002, for a 9.3% growth rate -- more than twice the rate of growth in the gross domestic product, according to a CMS report. As a result of recent growth, healthcare added 1.6 percentage points to its share of the GDP from 2000 to 2002, bringing it to 14.9% of the GDP in 2002 after holding steady at about 13.3% through most of the 1990s. Hospital spending -- which had an average annual increase of 3.7% from 1993 to 2000 -- increased 9.5% in 2002, outpacing overall healthcare spending growth for the first time since 1991. That follows a 7.5% increase in hospital spending in 2001. At $486.5 billion, hospital services represented the largest chunk of overall healthcare spending and accounted for nearly one-third of the total healthcare spending increase in 2002.
Prescription drug spending continued to record the highest rate of growth at 15.3% in 2002, but less than the 2001 increase of 15.9%. Growth in spending on physician services also slowed -- to 7.7% in 2002 from 8.6% in 2001. Read the abstract or access the CMS report at healthaffairs.org. -- by Tony Fong