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More than half of the total spending increase was due to price and intensity increases, including diagnostic services and inpatient care. Photo credit: UW School of Public Health
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By Susan Scutti / CNN

Health care spending in the United States increased by about $933.5 billion between 1996 and 2013, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA. More than half of this surge was a result of generally higher prices for health care services.

Joseph L. Dieleman, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor of Global Health and Researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, gathered information on 155 separate health conditions and six possible treatment categories: inpatient, outpatient (hospital), emergency services, dental care, prescriptions and nursing facilities.

The researchers also analyzed changes in five factors – population size, aging, disease incidence, use of services, and service price and intensity – as they relate to health care spending in the study period, 1996 through 2013.

"Intensity of care" refers to service variety and complexity. "It's the difference between a relatively simple X-ray as a compared to more complex MRIs and other forms of diagnostic services," Dieleman wrote in an email.

The analysis resulted in four main takeaways about why U.S. health care costs rose.

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Factors Associated with Increases in U.S. Health Care Spending, 1996–2013
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