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Fund Reports


Recent Growth in Health Expenditures


Between 1993 and 2003, health expenditures in the United States grew from roughly $900 billion to $1.7 trillion, increasing from 13.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 15.3 percent. U.S. per-capita health expenditures rose to $5,670 by 2003, from $3,354 a decade earlier. Data from the last 25 years indicate that the share of GDP spent on health in the United States has been considerably higher than that spent in Canada, Japan, Germany, or the United Kingdom, and that this difference has widened (Figure 1). This issue brief reviews trends in health expenditures in the United States over the past decade, examines differences between public and private spending, and considers explanations for the growth in spending and strategies intended to contain it.

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Publication Details



S. Zuckerman and J. McFeeters, Recent Growth in Health Expenditures, The Commonwealth Fund, March 2006