The rise in overall spending within the U.S. health care sector has been muted, due mainly to hospitals trying to control increasing costs – including shifting delivery of care from inpatient to outpatient settings, according to Altarum's latest Health Sector Economic Indicators Briefs.

National health spending in September rose to $3.53 trillion, up 4.3 percent from a year earlier, hampered primarily by slow spending by hospitals, which rose just 1.9 percent. The hospital spending growth rate is the lowest since September 2011, when it was 1.8 percent.

However, year-over-year spending in all other major heath sector categories rose faster, with spending on dental services growing the fastest, at 6 percent. Health spending as a percent of the U.S. gross domestic product is estimated at 18 percent for September, equal to the August rate.

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Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.