HOW MUCH DOES THE UNITED STATES SPEND ON HEALTHCARE?
The United States has one of the highest costs of healthcare in the world. In 2018, the United States spent about $3.6 trillion on healthcare, which averages to about $11,000 per person. Relative to the size of the economy, healthcare costs have increased over the past few decades, from 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1960 to 18 percent in 2018. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) project that by 2028, such costs will climb to $6.2 trillion, or about $18,000 per person, and will represent about 20 percent of GDP. However, those projections do not take into account the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; while the extent of the effect is still uncertain, testing and treatment costs are expected to be high and can potentially drive the cost of healthcare up.
When evaluating common health metrics, the United States lags behind other countries despite higher healthcare spending. (US in red on graph below)
A brief issued by the Commonwealth Fund shows the sobering statistics on healthcare in the US.
The U.S. spends more on health care as a share of the economy — nearly twice as much as the average OECD country — yet has the lowest life expectancy and highest suicide rates among the 11 nations.
The U.S. has the highest chronic disease burden and an obesity rate that is two times higher than the OECD average.
Americans had fewer physician visits than peers in most countries, which may be related to a low supply of physicians in the U.S.
Americans use some expensive technologies, such as MRIs, and specialized procedures, such as hip replacements, more often than our peers.
The U.S. outperforms its peers in terms of preventive measures — it has the one of the highest rates of breast cancer screening among women ages 50 to 69 and the second-highest rate (after the U.K.) of flu vaccinations among people age 65 and older.
Compared to peer nations, the U.S. has among the highest number of hospitalizations from preventable causes and the highest rate of avoidable deaths.
The U.S. Has the Lowest Life Expectancy
U.S. Adults Have the Highest Chronic Disease Burden
Percent (%) of GDP, adjusted for differences in cost of living
Notes: Current expenditures on health. Based on System of Health Accounts methodology, with some differences between country methodologies. GDP = gross domestic product. OECD average reflects the average of 36 OECD member countries, including ones not shown here. * 2018 data are provisional or estimated.
Data: OECD Health Statistics 2019.
Source: Roosa Tikkanen and Melinda K. Abrams, U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes? (Commonwealth Fund, Jan. 2020). https://doi.org/10.26099/7avy-fc29