NU Online News Service, Jan. 9, 2004, 1:29 p.m. EST — Washington Health care spending in the United States is growing at an accelerated rate and rose to $1.6 trillion in 2002, says a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.[@@]

The report, produced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an HHS agency, says health care spending grew at a 9.3% rate in 2002, the last year for which figures are available, compared with a rate of 8.5% in 2001.

This marks the sixth consecutive year in which health care spending grew at an accelerated rate, the report says.

In addition, health care spending grew much faster than the overall economy. The gap between the health spending growth rate and the economic growth rate was 5.7 percentage points, the report says.

Overall, health care spending accounted for 14.9% of gross domestic product in 2002, up from 14.1% a year earlier.

Private payers funded more than one-half of national health expenditures in 2002, with health insurance accounting for 35% of the total and out-of-pocket payments accounting for 14%.