How Does Growth in Health Care Costs Affect the American Family?

RAND Congressional Briefing Series

Rising health care costs have a well-known negative impact on government budgets, but what is their impact on the American family? Between 1999 and 2009, U.S. health care spending nearly doubled. In 2009, while the rest of the U.S. economy plunged into recession and millions lost their jobs, health care costs grew by 4 percent, and the percentage of the nation's GDP devoted to health care reached 17.6 percent—up from 13.8 percent only ten years earlier. Although these numbers are striking, they do not easily translate into figures that are meaningful to individual Americans.

To paint an accurate picture of how health care cost growth is affecting the finances of a typical American family, RAND Health researchers examined

  • the components of health care spending for the typical family
  • how health care spending affects buying power
  • whether slower health care cost growth would increase available family income
  • whether the nation is getting sufficient value for its health care spending.

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