April 30 (Bloomberg) — Higher consumer spending on health services, increased prescriptions for costly medications and more elective surgeries suggests Americans are using the insurance they gained under Obamacare.

Consumer purchases of health services surged 9.9 percent at an annualized rate in the first quarter from the prior three months, the highest rate of growth since 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Health spending contributed 1.1 percentage points to total growth in gross domestic product, the most since quarterly records began in 1947.

The growth is likely the result of increased utilization under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because prices mostly have been little changed. Health plans, pharmacies and hospitals say they are seeing the first signs of newly insured patients seeking medical care, including high-cost drugs and surgeries.

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