Although hospital spending increased in 2008 by 4.5 percent, to $718.4 billion, investment losses and slower growth in Medicaid hospital spending made it the slowest increase rate since 1998, according to new Health and Human Services data.
Increased growth in both inpatient and outpatient utilization and faster Medicare hospital spending growth helped offset the slowdown, HHS reports.
Total health expenditures reached $2.3 trillion in 2008, which translates to $7,681 per person and about 16 percent of the nation's spending - up slightly from a 15.9 percent share of GDP in 2007.
Spending growth on durable medical equipment was among the few bright spots. It accelerated to 4.1 percent in 2008 (to $26.6 billion), up from 3.3 percent in 2007.