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Research Questions

  1. How much has health care spending in the U.S. grown in the past decade?
  2. How do health care cost increases affect family budgets?
  3. Are increased health care costs improving health in the US?

Abstract

Health care costs nearly doubled between 1999 and 2009, which left the average 2009 family with only $95 more per month than in 1999. If costs had matched the consumer price index's rise, the average family would have an additional $450 per month.

Key Findings

Health spending has almost doubled in 10 years

Expenditures, including insurance premiums, out-of-pocket expenditures, and taxes devoted to health care, nearly doubled between 1999 and 2009.

Health cost increases have erased income growth

When other costs are factored in, an average family has only $95 more per month to spend than in 1999.

If health cost growth had matched overall inflation, families would have had an extra $5K/year to spend

Had health care costs tracked the Consumer Price Index, an average American family would have had an additional $450 per month to spend on other priorities.

Additional spending is not improving health in the U.S.

By most measures, this extra spending did not buy appreciably better health. For example, the United States is now last among 19 high-income countries in preventing deaths from common health conditions that doctors know how to treat.

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