In what's been called an "economic mystery," health care spending has slowed down tremendously over last few years, prompting many to speculate whether the trend will continue and, if it does, whether it will relieve some of the country's long-term fiscal problems.

But there's good news: with all the talk of cutting government spending, Washington bureaucrats may be happy to learn that the slowdown could actually save U.S. taxpayers $770 billion in the next 10 years, according to economists from Harvard University.

In a study published today in Health Affairs, Harvard economists David Cutler and Nikhil Sahni say increased efficiency in the healthcare system, combined with other factors like a decline in the development of new drugs and technologies, has led to a slowdown in Medicare spending. Between 2000 and 2007, health spending grew between 6.2 and 9.7 percent annually. Between 2009 and 2011, however, health spending grew at just 3.9 per year, the slowest pace in the last five decades.

If this trend continues, the authors of the study wrote, the U.S. will save much more on healthcare spending than previously thought.

"Historically, as far back as 1960, medical care has increased at about one-and-a-half to two percent faster than the economy," Cutler said in the press release. "In the last decade, however, medical care has not really grown as a share of the GDP. If you forecast that forward, it translates into a lot of money."

Economically, this could translate to increased salaries for workers, as companies that may have spent that money on healthcare costs give it back to employees instead. The trend could also save vital government programs without the need for steep cuts or higher taxes, the study authors add.

While the study did not explicitly mention a correlation between the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the current health care cost slowdown, Cutler told, "[The ACA's influence] is gathering steam over time. It's not a coincidence these things are happening at the very same time that policies are starting to penalize re-admissions, infections and things like that."

The problem, however, is that due to the many factors that play a part in economic patterns, it's hard to pinpoint what exactly caused the slowdown in health care spending. Many economists believe that the ACA has had very little impact on the slowdown, instead citing the increase in the amount of people paying out-of-pocket for health care due to lack of insurance coverage or inability to afford insurance.

But another study out of Harvard looked very closely at the role of out-of-pocket costs in slowing health spending and found that, though it does contribute to the trends, it is likely not the determining factor.

So, with no clear cause, this could mean that the health care slowdown is more than just a passing trend. If that proves to be true, the U.S. could increase wages and finally begin to take viable steps toward closing the federal deficit.