U.S. healthcare costs rose 7.9% in 2004 to $1.9 trillion -- or 16% of the nation's gross domestic product, about the same percentage of the GDP as in 2003, the CMS said. Meanwhile, the rate of spending on hospital care continued to increase. Hospital care represented 38% of the growth in health spending from 2002 to 2004, about 10 percentage points higher than the percentage from 1997 to 2000, according to a report by the CMS' Office of the Actuary that was published in Health Affairs. The overall increase in healthcare spending was lower than the 8.2% growth in 2003, reflecting a slowdown in prescription-drug spending. Prescription drugs accounted for 14% of the growth in healthcare spending from 2002 to 2004, down from 23% in 1997-2000. Government spending on healthcare rose 8.2% in 2004, with Medicare spending up 8.9% to $309 billion and Medicaid spending up 7.9% to $291 billion. Read the abstract. -- by Michael Romano
Healthcare spending growth slows in 2004: CMS
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