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Health care inflation slowing

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NEW YORK, Jun 11, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- After accelerating for five years, inflation in the cost of health care is showing signs of slowing.

The shift is being led by two of the most stubborn drivers of medical inflation: prescription drugs and hospital spending.

The reasons include a loss of patent protection on some big brand-name drugs, reduced use of outpatient surgical services and stingier new health-insurance plans that force patients to pay more of their medical bills.

The development shows some employers, after suffering several years of rapidly rising health-care costs, are starting to have success with strategies to rein them in.

"Medical inflation, is slowing, when real personal-income growth slows," as it began to in 1999, "health-care-cost trends also begin to slow three to five years later," John Cookson, an actuary at Milliman USA, an actuarial firm with one of the largest health-care practices in the United States, told the Wall Street Journal.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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