From one year ago, national health expenditures in August grew 3.8 percent, which equals the July rate and marks the fourth consecutive month of below 4 percent growth, according to the October Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs released by Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending.

In 2012, the average rate of growth in spending is at 4.1 percent, short from the projected 2011 average of 5.2 percent, the report finds, and this helps calm fears of a new acceleration in overall health spending. Still, a jump in hospital prices contributed to higher overall health care prices in August 2012 at 2.4 percent, which is above its level from August 2011 and the highest reading in nearly two years.

The report also reveals that 44,000 health-sector jobs were created in September 2012 for the second-highest employment gain in a decade and much higher than the 24-month average of 25,000 jobs.

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