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Health care cost growth lowest in over 50 years

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Health spending last year grew at the lowest rate since 1960, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In 2013, health spending grew 3.6% to $9,255 per person. The annual CMS report showed health spending continued a pattern of low growth—between 3.6% and 4.1% for five consecutive years.

As a result, the share of the economy devoted to health remained unchanged over this period at 17.4%.

Total national health spending slowed from 4.1% growth in 2012 to 3.6% in 2013. The report attributes the 0.5 percentage point slowdown in health care spending growth to slower growth in the cost of private health insurance and Medicare spending.

Spending on private health insurance premiums (33% of total health care spending) reached $961.7 billion in 2013, and increased 2.8%, slower than the 4% growth in 2012. CMS said the slower rate of growth reflected low enrollment growth in private health insurance plans, the continued shift of enrollees to high-deductible health plans and other benefit design changes and the impacts of the Affordable Care Act.

Out-of-pocket spending—such as copays and deductibles—grew 3.2% in 2013, slightly slower than the 3.6% growth rate reported in both 2011 and 2012.

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