U.S. health care spending experienced historically low rates of growth in 2009 and 2010, according to the annual report of national health expenditures published Monday.

In 2009, the increase of spending was at the lowest rate in the entire 51-year history of the report, which is prepared by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Office of the Actuary and published in the Health Affairs journal. The record low reflects lower utilization in health care than in previous years.

Further, in 2010, U.S. health care spending grew 3.9%, reaching $2.6 trillion, or $8,402 a person, just 0.1 percentage point faster than 2009.

Among other findings were:

Growth in total private health insurance premiums slowed to 2.4% in 2010 from 2.6% in 2009. Yet, for the first time in seven years, the growth of premiums exceeded the growth in insurer spending on health care benefits.

Household health care spending of $725.5 billion in 2010 represented 28% of total health spending, slightly lower than 29% in 2007.

The federal government financed 29% of the nation’s health care spending in 2010, up 6% from 2007, reaching $742.7 billion.

Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner says that her office has “worked hard since the passage of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to lower health care cost growth. We believe the tools in health reform will help keep health cost growth low while improving the value for consumers.”

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