It comes as no surprise that we in the U.S. spend substantially more on health care than any other developed nation. Still, the cold, hard numbers — as shown in a recent study put out by the Kaiser Family Foundation — are shocking. The significant spending gap, first measured in 1970, swelled in 2008 to 91 percent more than other developed countries around the world.
A brief history of numbers:
- When first measured in 1970, U.S. health care costs per capita were 58 percent higher than other wealthy countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Japan
- By 1980, the gap had shrunk to 51 percent
- Just ten years later, in 1990, costs had soared to 86 percent higher
- The gap shrank slightly, to 84 percent, between 1990 and 2000, before climbing to 91 percent in 2008
This timeline is complimented by data showing how health care costs have devoured our national GDP: in 1970, the U.S. spent 7 percent of its Gross Domestic Product on health care, 37 percent more than other developed countries. By 2008, this number had risen to 16 percent, 58 percent higher than average.
So, what do we do with these numbers? Study authors suggest: “This growing gap between health spending in the U.S. and that of other developed countries may encourage policymakers to look more closely at what people in the U.S. are getting for their far higher and faster growing spending on health care.”