(Bloomberg) — People with health insurance saw increases in their medical costs slow from 2009 to 2011, signaling potential structural changes in the industry that could cut health care inflation and save the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars, according to two studies.

The changes include greater use of generic drugs, higher out-of-pocket costs and more efficient care, a trend encouraged by the 2010 health care overhaul, says David Cutler, a Harvard University health economist. If they permanently slow growth, the U.S. may reap $770 billion in unexpected savings from projected expenditures by 2021, wiping out a fifth of the budget deficit, one of the studies found.

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