U.S. spending on private health insurance premiums rose 8.6% in 2004, to $658 billion.
Economists with the National Health Statistics Group at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have included those figures in a health care spending report published in Health Affairs, a health policy journal.
Total U.S. health care spending increased 7.9% in 2004, to $2 trillion, and the rate of increase slowed from 8.2% from 2003, the economists write.
The 2004 total averages $6,280 per person and amounts to 16% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
The economists say successful efforts to control prescription drug spending by private payers and Medicaid plans appear to be responsible for much of the moderation in health care spending.
Drug spending growth slowed to 8.2% and was below 10% for the first time in a decade, and state efforts to control Medicaid prescription drug spending slowed Medicaid spending growth to 7.9%, from 8.9% in 2003, according to the CMS economists. Medicaid spending totaled $293 billion in 2003.
Increases in home health and physician spending caused Medicare spending to increase 8.9%, to $309 billion, up from a growth rate of 6.6% recorded for 2003.