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U.S. health care spending inches up

U.S. health care spending inches up

Health care expenditures continued to rise in 2015, fueled by expanded coverage and soaring prescription drug costs, according to government research released Wednesday.

In 2015, total U.S. health care spending hit $3.197 trillion, up from $3.031 trillion in 2014, according to statistics compiled by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs.

That 5.5% increase compares to a 5.3% rise in 2014 and a 3.8% increase in 2013.

Last year's acceleration in health care spending was driven by several factors. Those factors, according to the report, include— due to health care reform law provisions that give federal premium subsidies to the lower-income uninsured and made more people eligible for Medicaid—an expansion of coverage, as well as big spending increases for prescription drugs, whose expenditures jumped 8.1% in 2015.

Health care expenditures are expected to rise in 2016 to a record 18.1% of the gross domestic product, up from 17.8% in 2015 and 17.5% in 2014 according to the report.

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