Americans kept health care spending in check for three years in a row, the government reported Monday, a respite that could linger if the economy stays soft or fade like a mirage if job growth comes roaring back.
The nation’s health care tab stood at $2.7 trillion in 2011, the latest year available, said nonpartisan number crunchers with the Department of Health and Human Services. That’s 17.9 percent of the economy, which averages out to $8,680 for every man, woman and child, far more than any other economically advanced country spends. Still, it was the third straight year of historically low increases in the United States. Health care costs grew in line with the overall economy in 2011 instead of surging ahead as they normally have during a recovery.