Out-of-pocket health spending in 2016 increased at the fastest rate in a decade

U.S. health care spending increased to $3.3 trillion in 2016, with out-of-pocket health care costs borne directly by consumers rising 3.9 percent — the fastest rate of growth since 2007.

The findings, published Wednesday by Health Affairs, are considered the authoritative breakdown of American health care spending and are prepared each year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The overall rate of increase in health care spending experienced a slight slowdown over the previous year, driven in part by the expected moderation in growth after the expansion of insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. There was also a sharp decrease in the growth of prescription drug expenditures, as hepatitis C treatment costs have declined and fewer patients are receiving them.

But even as spending growth slowed, health expenditures swallowed a greater part of the economy, with health expenditures making up 17.9 percent share of gross domestic product in 2016.

The slowdown in spending growth — a 4.3 percent increase in 2016, following a 5.8 percent growth the previous year — stemmed from changes in a broad array of health care sectors.

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