State of Health: Healthcare Spending in the U.S.

As the population of the United States ages, healthcare costs have risen dramatically. In fact, in 2009, the United States spent $2.5 trillion, or an average of $6,815 per person. The following year, healthcare spending per person shot up to $8,402, a 23% increase! Some of these costs are generated by healthcare administration and management, but the bulk is for services rendered, and some Americans are cutting back on needed procedures and check-ups. In fact, in a 2013 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, half of those surveyed said they are skipping dental visits, delaying healthcare appointments, trying home remedies and using over-the-counter medications instead. While this might seem like a cost cutting measure, it ultimately can result in more healthcare costs in the future.

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 75% of our healthcare spending pays for chronic conditions such as heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes, some of which are preventable. In addition, of the nearly $3 trillion paid for healthcare in 2010, 50% of those costs paid for only 5% of the population! Healthcare spending accounts for 17.9% of our gross domestic product (GDP). In 2020, healthcare costs are expected to grow to nearly one-fifth of all of our spending.

Compared to other developed countries, we are spending nearly 50% more per person on healthcare than the next closest country – Switzerland. Why the dramatic increases in spending? Some possibilities include an aging population, an increase in the incidence of chronic diseases, waste in the healthcare industry, and steadily increasing health insurance premiums, to name a few. The question is how can we stop it.

Please reference the visual for a full list of sources.

Skyrocketing Costs: A Snapshot of Current Healthcare Spending in the U.S.
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