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U.S. Health Care Spending to Double by 2017, Report Predicts
Date:2/26/2008

Spending could hit $4.3 trillion, account for one-fifth of gross domestic product,,,,

TUESDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Spending on health care in the United States could double by 2017, reaching $4.3 trillion and accounting for 19.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, a new government report shows.

This finding follows last month's report that, for the first time, health care spending grew to more than $2.1 trillion in 2006, accounting for 16 percent of gross domestic product. Moreover, as baby boomers begin to enter the Medicare system, there will be a major shift in health care spending from the private to the public sector.

"Our expectation is that growth in health spending is expected to be steady over the projection, which is 2007 through 2017, at 6.7 percent per year," report co-author Andrea Sisko, an economist with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said during an afternoon teleconference on Monday.

"At the same time, we are expecting economic growth to slow to an average annual rate of 4.7 percent. As a result, the combination of steady health spending growth and slowing economic growth will lead to the health care part of gross domestic product rising to nearly 20 percent by 2017, nearly one-fifth of the economy, Sisko said.

The report was published in the Feb. 26 online edition of Health Affairs.

Sisko noted that growth in public spending on health care will accelerate through 2017, while there will be a general decrease in spending by the private sector. "The acceleration in public spending growth is due to the leading edge of the baby boomer generation enrolling in Medicare," she said.

The decrease in private spending growth is related to the expected slowdown in overall economic growth, Sisko said. In addition, the report authors are expecting that disposable income will also decrease during the period, playing a part in the slowdown in
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