Health care spending in the United States continues to outpace overall economic growth and general inflation, which grew 6.1 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively, in 2006, according to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The numbers also show that spending grew slightly in 2006 with an increase of 6.7 percent compared to 6.5 percent in 2005, which was the slowest rate of growth since 1999

Specifically, health care spending in 2006 reached a total of $2.1 trillion, or $7,026 per person, up from $6,649 per person in 2005, the report stated.  At 16 percent, the health spending share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remained relatively stable in 2006, up by a mere 0.1 percentage point from 2005. 

“The cost of health care continues to be a real and pressing concern.  Making sure we are paying for high quality health care services, not just the number of services provided, is just one of the most critical issues facing the American public and the federal government now and in the future,” said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems.  “This review of health care spending reminds us that we need to accelerate our efforts to improve our health care delivery system to make sure that Medicare and Medicaid are sustainable for future generations of beneficiaries and taxpayers."

Out-of-pocket spending increased by 3.8 percent in 2006, a deceleration from 5.2 percent growth in 2005.  Additionally, the CMS found that overall private spending growth slowed in 2006.  Private health insurance premiums grew 5.5 percent in 2006, the slowest rate of growth since 1997.