Healthcare spending rose in 2003, but more slowly than in a decade

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Healthcare spending rose in 2003, but the rate of increase was lower than it's been in a decade, according to a study released Wednesday by the Center for Studying Health System Change. The growth is still about twice as fast as the overall economy.

Healthcare spending per privately insured person rose 7.4% in 2003, compared with 9.5% in 2002 and 10% in 2001.

"This 2 percentage point drop is a sizable drop. That's reasonably good news. ... But it's still a very high rate [of growth in healthcare spending]," an HSC spokeswoman told the Bureau of National Affairs.

Growth in spending on prescription drugs, physician services, and inpatient and outpatient hospital care slowed in 2003.

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