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Editor's Comment

The Complex Mosaic of Health Care Spending in the United States

  • 1Editor, JAMA Health Forum

The US spends substantially more on health care per capita and as a percentage of its economy than any other country in the world,1 and this gap has widened substantially in recent decades. In the JAMA theme issue devoted to prescription drug pricing, a study by Dieleman and colleagues2 charts US health care spending by payer and health condition from 1996 through 2016. This study adds clinical insights and more recent data to prior reports of US spending trends published by the same research group in JAMA.3,4

The authors analyzed a wide range of health care data sources maintained by the federal government. These sources represented 85.2% of all US health care spending during the study period, with spending excluded for home health services, durable medical equipment, and nonprescription medications.

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