Healthcare spending 17 percent of economy

Feb. 4, 2010 at 9:58 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Healthcare spending was a record 17.3 percent of the U.S. economy in 2009, the largest one-year jump since records have been kept, government officials said.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report indicated the nearly $2.5 trillion spent in 2009 was $134 billion more than 2008, when healthcare consumed 16.2 percent of the gross domestic product, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The CMS report by independent actuaries released Thursday indicated the increase was the largest year-over-year jump since records began being kept 50 years ago, the Times said.

The report also projected that as early as next year the federal government could pick up more than half of the nation's total healthcare bill for the first time --- another milestone. Last year, CMS estimated government healthcare spending would not surpass private spending until 2016, compared with 2011 or 2012 in the latest report.

The increase in costs, driven in part by burgeoning Medicare and Medicaid spending, and the grim projections for the future don't consider what changes may come if a healthcare reform bill passes and is signed into law, the Times said. The legislation is stalled in Congress.

If there is no change, the report indicated the U.S. healthcare system would eat into a greater, possibly unsustainable, share of the economy.

Federal and state spending on Medicaid rose nearly 10 percent in 2009, while Medicare spending increased by just more than 8 percent, the report said.

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