ST. PAUL (AP) — The state Health Department says the rate of health care spending in Minnesota has slowed to its lowest point since 1997, and the recession is a big reason why.

The department says health care costs are still rising, but at a much slower pace — 2.2 percent between 2009 and 2010.

State Health Economist Stefan Gildemeister says the recession was a major reason why Minnesotans spent less on health care. He said many lost their insurance when they lost their jobs and others who kept their jobs were more cautious.

Gildemeister said another reason why health care spending may be slowing is that consumers are increasingly paying more of out-of-pocket costs.

Health care spending accounts for nearly 14 percent of Minnesota's economy at $37.7 billion.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.