Updated Dec 6, 2017

Spending on health care slows, but still outpaces GDP

The U.S. spent $3.34 trillion on health care in 2016 — a 4.3% increase from 2015 and an amount that almost equals Germany's entire economy, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That spending growth is slightly lower than what CMS initially predicted in February, and it's a lower growth rate than 2014 and 2015.

Yes, but: Even a slower 4.3% uptick in health care spending greatly outpaced the 2.8% growth of the broader U.S. economy. Health care continues to absorb a greater share of the overall economy, which eats into other areas like education and infrastructure.

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Here are some of the other highlights of the national health spending data:

  • Total out-of-pocketing spending — which includes what Americans spent on deductibles, copays, coinsurance and uncovered services — increased 3.9% in 2016. That's the highest growth rate since 2007. More health care costs are falling on the shoulders of Americans, and it's a major reason why people are becoming even more upset with the system.
  • The amount Medicare spent on health care last year increased 3.6%, compared with 4.8% in 2015. CMS could not say how much, if any, of that lower growth rate could be attributed to models that pay for outcomes instead of volume.
  • The Affordable Care Act's expansion of health insurance coverage in the individual markets and Medicaid were major reasons why spending increased in 2014 and 2015. But insurance coverage remained mostly stable last year, hence why spending did not grow as much.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

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Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

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Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

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