This comprehensive analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation is a primer on health care costs in the United States.  Among its key findings:

  • In 2010, the U.S. spent $2.6 trillion on health care, an average of $8,402 per person.
  • The share of economic activity (gross domestic product, or GDP) devoted to health care has increased from 7.2% in 1970 to 17.9% in 2009 and 2010.
  • Health care costs per capita have grown an average 2.4 percentage points faster than the GDP since 1970.
  • Since 2002, the rate of increase in national health care spending has fallen from 9.5% to 3.9%.
  • Half of health care spending is used to treat just 5% of the population.
  • Although only 10% of total health expenditures, spending on prescription drugs has received considerable attention because of its rapid growth (114% from 2000 to 2010).
  • In 2008, 27% of the nonelderly with 3+ chronic conditions spent more than 10% of their income on health, compared to 11% of the total nonelderly population.
  • Many policy experts believe new technologies and the spread of existing ones account for a large portion of medical spending and its growth.

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