January 4, 2012

Where Are the Health Care Cost Savings?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Office of the Provost and Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

JAMA. 2012;307(1):39-40. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1927

As of July 2010, the United States spent $2.6 trillion per year on health care.1 It is not just the level of spending that is of concern but the rate of growth over time. During the last 30 years, the growth in US health care spending has been 2.1% more per year than growth in gross domestic product (GDP). This is why the percentage of GDP attributable to health has nearly doubled in 30 years. At this rate, projections suggest that by 2040 1 of every 3 dollars will be spent on health care and by 2080, it will be nearly 1 of every 2 dollars.2 In 2010, the entire GDP of France was $2.58 trillion, the world’s fifth-largest economy. That means US health care spending is equivalent to the world’s fifth-largest economy.

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