Health care spending in the U.S. could soon top $5 trillion, according to new government projections.
The nation is in the midst of a historic slowdown in health care spending, which has lasted longer than most experts anticipated. But it won't last forever, actuaries within the Health and Human Services Department said Wednesday.
HHS is expecting health care costs to grow more quickly over the coming decade—although not quite as quickly as they have in the past.
The current slowdown in health care spending is a big deal, for families as well as the federal budget. And 2013 was the fifth-consecutive year of historically low growth in health spending, according to HHS' annual National Health Expenditures report.
Health care expenses, including government programs as well as private insurance, were roughly $3 trillion in 2013, according to the latest report—which is considerably lower than a lot of experts would have predicted a few years earlier. Spending only grew last year by 3.6 percent, which is about the same as the overall growth in the economy.
Health care tends to fluctuate with the economy, and HHS' actuaries predicted that national health care spending will grow more quickly as the economy improves over the next few years.