A first look at health spending in the third quarter suggests demand for medical care hasn't sharply increased this year despite the greater number of Americans who now have health insurance because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Health spending rose 3.5% during the third quarter compared with the same period last year, according to U.S. Commerce Department estimates. The spending is not adjusted for inflation. The estimate offers a first look at consumer spending on medical services, such as hospital care and clinic visits, in the quarter. It will be revised twice in coming months as more data becomes available.
The modest growth is in line with the historically slow rate of national health spending that has persisted since the recession.