Spending on Health to Rise Dramatically

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Washington (AP) The federal government is offering a prediction on how much health care will cost nine years from now.

It's a staggering amount.

The government says by 2017, consumers and taxpayers will spend more than 4 trillion dollars on health care, accounting for one of every $5 spent.

The projected 6.7 percent annual increase in spending is nearly three times the rate of inflation. The centers for Medicare and Medicaid services says it will be largely driven by higher prices

And an increased demand for care. But other factors include a growing and aging population. The first wave of baby boomers become eligible for Medicare beginning in 2011.

With the aging population, the federal government will be picking up the tab for a growing share of the nation's medical expenses.

In his budget for next year, President Bush recommends slowing the yearly growth of Medicare from about 7 percent to about 5 percent.

Democratic lawmakers also have proposed ways to slow health spending.