The American Healthcare Spending in Numbers

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The evident rise of healthcare costs in the United States is nothing short of staggering. According to the 2018 statistics, that year marked an all-time high, reaching $3.65 trillion. However, it is not because of the increased employment rate among the healthcare workforce, but rather due to the higher prices of healthcare services.

Unfortunately, a large chunk of the American population cannot afford adequate medical care. There are many reasons for that, some of which include retiring and the increasing need for medical care due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Let’s scrutinize some of the biggest healthcare costs. 

Top Healthcare Costs

The American Medical Association study revealed that the United States healthcare spending per capita was $10,739 in 2017, with somewhat lower growth rates in comparison to 2015 and 2016. Still, the 2017 stats show the bigger picture.

  • About 32.7%, or roughly $1.142 trillion, was spent on joint hospital care costs. The expenditures related to hospital care slowed among the major players, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance programs. 
  • Around $544.2 billion (15.6%) was spent on physicians and services, with rather slow growth in 2017 due to the intensity of service, productivity, and overall use. Clinical services growth, on the other hand, was recorded to be much higher than physician services growth—4.3% or about $150.1 billion. 
  • Personal healthcare spending took a large slice of the cake, with the total cost of some $527.3 billion or 15.1%. Conversely, the overall net costs of health insurance programs were accountable for about 6.6%, or $229.5 billion. 
  • Roughly 9.5% (about $333.4 billion) went on retail prescription drug spending. Retail prescription drug spending slowed due to the shift toward relatively cheaper, more generic retail drugs. On the other hand, more expensive drugs had a drop in sales.  
  • Nursing care facilities were another reason why spending skyrocketed. According to the study mentioned above, they accounted for 6.6%, which translated to roughly $229.5 billion for that year.  
  • Home healthcare spending accounted for about $97 billion (2.8%) for that year, with 40% that came from Medicare.  
  • Direct governmental health insurance administration spending added up to $45 billion, or 1.3%. By contrast, the budget-driven public health activities conducted by the government came to as much as 2.5%, or $88.9 billion. 
  • Last but certainly not least, the investments in the healthcare industry were accountable for about 4.8%, or roughly $167.6 billion. 


Each of these parameters had strongly contributed to the increase in spending. Still, projections say that the overall trend of healthcare spending in the United States is not going to stop any time soon. According to some predictions, we are looking at an amazing $6 trillion rate by 2027. The next cost breakdown is surely going to give a lot of new information, and we cannot wait to see the numbers.