Spending on health care as a share of GDP in 2012 dropped slightly for the first time since 1997, the federal government announced Monday.
The slight drop in the health-care sector's share of the economy—from 17.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 to 17.2 percent in 2012—came as overall growth in health-care spending remained relatively low for the fourth consecutive year, officials said.
The decline relative to GDP was due to the fact that the overall economy grew at a comparatively robust 4.6 percent rate.
In 2012, health-care spending rose a modest 3.7 percent over the prior year to $2.8 trillion, as prescription drug prices were kept down due to several expiring patents. Total health spending works out to $8,915 per person.
Since 2009, the rate of increase in such spending has hovered between 3.6 percent and 3.8 percent annually, according to data compiled for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The growth rate during that four-year span is the slowest ever recorded in the 53-year history of the National Health Expenditure Accounts data released Monday.
Just 0.1 percent of the increase in health spending from 2010-2012 was due to effects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, said Anne Martin, an economist in the Office of the Actuary at CMS
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"The relative stability since 2009 primarily reflects the lagged impacts of the recent severe economic recession," according to a report on the data in the periodical Health Affairs.