The U.S. Health Care Spending Exceeds Six Countries Combined

The U.S. Health Care Spending Exceeds Six Countries Combined

According to a report in StatNews, “… the U.S. government spent more on health care last year than the governments of Germany, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Austria, and France combined spent to provide universal health care coverage to the whole of their population (335 million in total), which is comparable in size to the U.S. population of 331 million.”

The article points out that “This isn’t an aberration. The fact that, for many years, more taxpayer dollars have gone to health care in the U.S. than in countries where the health system is actually meant to be taxpayer-funded is central to the argument made by economists Amy Finkelstein and Liran Einav in their recent book, ‘We’ve Got You Covered: Rebooting American Health Care.’”

The U.S. devotes more resources to health care than any other country, with patients, employers, and government health programs spending $4.5 trillion last year. Hospitals get the biggest share by far, taking in more than three times what Americans pay at the pharmacy on prescription drugs. Rising hospital prices have helped make health insurance more costly.

Yet higher prices generally aren’t linked to better care, according to a 2020 review of dozens of studies. And while hospitals often say they must charge insurers more to make up for lower reimbursements from U.S. government health plans, facilities that treat more patients on public plans don’t always charge the highest prices.

Thanks to decades of consolidation, most U.S. hospitals don’t have a nearby competitor. Just 4% of hospitals are in competitive markets based on standard measures of market concentration, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of data from Yale University’s Tobin Center for Economic Policy.