U.S. healthcare spending hit $1.7 trillion in 2003, or 15.3% of the national economy, but spending growth slowed after six consecutive years of accelerating increases, according to CMS projections released today. Healthcare spending rose an estimated 7.8% in 2003 and is projected to rise 7.2% in 2004, compared with a 9.3% increase in 2002, the CMS said in a report on the Health Affairs Web site. A major contributor was moderating increases in hospital prices and utilization. Hospital spending growth slowed to 6.5% in 2003, the CMS projected, down from 9.5% in 2002. Earlier this year, the CMS released final figures for 2002, in which hospital costs continued to be the main driver behind overall spending growth. Despite the slowdown, healthcare spending still is expected to outpace growth in the overall economy for the next 10 years and by 2013 will reach a projected $3.4 trillion, or 18.4% of the gross domestic product, the CMS said. The projections do not include the effects of the new Medicare drug law, but the law is expected to shift costs to the government rather than increase overall U.S. spending. Read the latest projections. -- by Tony Fong
CMS projects slowing healthcare costs in 2003, '04
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