by Paul Davidson
May 4, 2014
Health care spending rose at the fastest pace since 1980 in the first quarter as the new health insurance law prompted many more Americans to visit doctors and hospitals.
Analysts say the sharp increase reflects other trends that should continue to drive up both medical spending and costs in 2014 after years of slow growth.
Health care expenditures climbed at a 9.9% annual rate last quarter, mostly because of increased spending at hospitals, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said last week. That's the biggest jump since 1980's third quarter, and it followed a 5.6% increase in the fourth quarter.The higher health outlays made up more than half of last quarter's 3% increase in consumer spending
and helped prop up a generally weak economy. The economy grew just 0.1% in the quarter and would have shrunk by about a percentage point if not for the surge in health-related spending.