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Officials emphasized that the good news about slowing the increasing costs of health care extended only to prescription drugs. All other major health sectors -- such as hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and home health -- grew at the same rate or slightly faster than the year before.
Since prescription drugs generate only about 10 percent of all health spending, officials question how much longer the transition to generics would dampen the growth in health care costs.
"I wouldn't expect the good news to continue," said Richard Foster, chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Historically, health spending has been somewhat insulated from the effects of a slowing economy, which means health care makes up an even greater share of the overall economy during recessions. In 2007, the health sector's share came to 16.2 percent, up from 16 percent the year before.
On the Net:
Health Affairs: http://www.healthaffairs.org/
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:
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