In 2012, national health expenditures increased by an estimationof 4.3 percent, which is slightly higher than 3.9 percent between2009 and 2011, according to research by Altarum Institute’s Centerfor Sustainable Health Spending.

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This figure could be revised, but it marks thefourth-consecutive year of record-low growth from all previousyears, the research finds. More than 50 years of official healthspending data have been reported.

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From December 2011 to December 2012, health care pricesincreased by 1.7 percent, which is the lowest year-over-year growthsince February 1998, while the 12-month moving average of 2 percentis the lowest reading since December 1998, the research shows. InJanuary, the health care sector added 23,000 jobs. This is on parwith the 24-month average of 24,000 jobs. After calculatingbenchmark revisions, the health care sector brought in 70,000 jobsfrom 2011-2012, raising overall jobs by 598,000.

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“While slightly above the flat three-year experience of 3.9percent, our data demonstrates continued historically low healthcare spending growth,” says Charles Roehrig, director of AltarumInstitute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending. “This is drivenby exceptionally low health care price growth coupled with moderateutilization growth. The paradox of slow spending growth and highemployment gains is less pronounced in light of the revised lowerpayroll employment numbers but still calls out for anexplanation.”

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The research also finds that the health spending share of thegross domestic product was 18.2 percent in December 2012, marking asmall rise from 17.9 percent, as reported by the Centers forMedicare and Medicaid Services in 2011. Partly, this gain is due toa drop in GDP during the fourth quarter of 2012. As there has beenmoderate growth in economy-wide payroll jobs, the health sectorshare of total employment reached a record high of 10.74 percent,up from 10.41 percent in July 2009.

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