Why Are Americans Paying More for Healthcare?

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The United States spends significantly more on healthcare compared to other nations but does not have better healthcare outcomes. What’s more, rising healthcare spending is a key driver of America’s unsustainable national debt, and high healthcare costs also make it harder to respond to public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a look at the increasing healthcare costs in the United States, what is causing that rapid growth, and why it matters for public health and our fiscal outlook.

How Much Does the United States Spend on Healthcare?

The United States has one of the highest costs of healthcare in the world. In 2022, U.S. healthcare spending reached $4.5 trillion, which averages to $13,493 per person. By comparison, the average cost of healthcare per person in other wealthy countries is less than half as much. While the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the trend in rising healthcare costs, such spending has been increasing long before COVID-19 began. Relative to the size of the economy, healthcare costs have increased over the past few decades, from 5 percent of GDP in 1962 to 17 percent in 2022.