(HealthDay News) — The expansion of insurance coverage and increases in retail prescription drug spending contributed to an increase in total national health care expenditures in 2014, according to a report published online December 2 in Health Affairs.

Noting that US health care spending increased by 5.3% in 2014 to $3.0 trillion, Anne B. Martin, PhD, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Baltimore, and colleagues examined the increase in spending.

The researchers found that there was a 4.5% increase in health spending on a per capita basis, with spending of $9,523 per individual, in 2014. The share of the gross domestic product devoted to health care spending increased from 17.3% in 2013 to 17.5% in 2014. The faster growth in 2014 followed five consecutive years of historically low growth, which was attributed to major coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act, mainly through Medicare and private health insurance. The introduction of new hepatitis C drugs also contributed to retail prescription drug expenditure growth, which increased by 12.2% in 2014. In 2014, spending by the federal government grew at a faster rate than spending by other health care sponsors, leading to a 2% increase in its share of total health care spending from 2013 to 2014.

“The expansion of insurance coverage, particularly through Medicaid and private health insurance, and rapid growth in retail prescription drug spending fueled a 5.3% increase in total national health care expenditures in 2014,” the authors write.

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