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.

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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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