U.S. Health-care Spending Falls At 0.4% Rate In First Quarter

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Spending on health care in the U.S. fell at a 0.4% annual rate in the first quarter, suggesting gross domestic product will be revised even lower. The U.S. economy contracted by 0.7% in the first three months of the year, but the goverment will revise the data for a second time at the end of the month. The revision will take into account fresh data from the Commerce Department's quarterly services survey that tracks spending in fields such as health care, finance, law and entertainment. Health care is the second biggest service sector by spending after finance. Although overall spending on health care and social assistance declined, outlays at hospitals rose at 2.5% clip in the first quarter compared to a 4.3% pace in the prior period. Over the past year health-care spending has risen at an unadjusted 7.2% pace, the government said. The increase in outlays in the fourth quarter was unchanged at a 4.2% annual rate.

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