WASHINGTON – The recession dramatically slowed U.S. health-care spending to $2.3 trillion in 2008, but it still grew much faster than the economy as a whole, accounting for more than 16 percent of the nation’s economic output, a new federal analysis says.

The eye-popping figure of $2.3 trillion – that’s $7,681 per person – underscores the challenges confronting President Barack Obama and lawmakers seeking to overhaul the system. Obama repeatedly has cited spiraling health costs as one of the main reasons Congress needs to pass his health plan, and administration officials said the findings highlight the need for quick action.

“This report contains some welcome news and yet another warning sign,” said Jonathan Blum, a top official at the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Health-care spending as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) is rising at an unsustainable rate. It is clear that we need health-insurance reform now.”

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