It is, without a doubt, one of the most important questions for federal budget policy: how quickly will health spending grow? Really fast health care spending means more tax dollars going towards Medicare and Medicaid — and less money for everything else. But slow growth, the type the country has seen for the last four years, could hugely alleviate spending pressures. If the recent slowdown persists, it could change everything we think we know about the nation's deficit — but whether it will last is also vexingly difficult to figure out. How much the country spends of health care is influenced by a variety of factors.