WASHINGTON - Health care spending has risen to almost 15 percent of the United States' economy, the largest percentage on record, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Officials announced that spending on health care jumped 9.3 percent in 2002, which represents the largest increase in 11 years, to a total of $1.55 trillion.

Growing faster than the nation's economy for the fourth year in a row, hospital care and prescription drugs made up a major portion of the increase, noted the Department of Health and Human Services.

Data on spending in 2003 are not available at this time, but some health care experts believe the substantial growth of the last several years may now be slowing.

Publication date: 01/12/2004