U.S. tops health spending, without much to show for it

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The United States spends the greatest percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP) – 15 percent – on healthcare, when compared to other higher-income countries, according to the latest installment of Snapshots: Health Care Costs, published by the Kaiser Foundation. The health spending per capita in the U.S. is 24 percent higher than in the next highest spending countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The growth in health spending in the U.S. is among the highest for developed countries as well. After adjusting for inflation, health spending per capita grew at an average annual rate of 4.4 percent between 1980 and 2003, second highest among the OECD countries analyzed. Over the same period, health care spending as a share of GDP in the U.S. increased by 6.4 percentage points, a larger gain than that of other countries.

Despite the greater spending levels, the United States does not appear to provide substantially greater health resources to its citizens or achieve substantially better health benchmarks compared to other developed countries. So, we can expect more scrutiny by policy and lawmakers in the future.

Access the entire snapshot at http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm010307oth.cfm