US health-care spending in 2006 increased 6.7% to a record $2.1 trillion—an average of $7,000 for every person in America. Medicare spending jumped 19%, its fastest growth rate in 25 years, according to the latest government statistics published yesterday in the journal Health Affairs. The Medicare boost was due largely to shifting 6.2 million low-income seniors from Medicaid drug programs to a subsidized Medicare prescription plan.
Health-care spending grew faster than the economy by 0.6%, and the price of medical services continued to rise faster than wages. It accounted for 16% of the nation's economy. "The cost of health care continues to be a real and pressing concern,'' said a Medicare administrator. Two Democratic lawmakers said the latest statistics cry out for some kind of national health-care reform.