U.S. Healthcare is a Global Outlier, and Not in a Good Way
Historically, the United States has spent more money than any other country on healthcare.
In the late 1990s, for example, the U.S. spent roughly 13% of GDP on healthcare, compared to about a 9.5% average for all high income countries.
However, in recent years, the difference has become more stark. Last year, as Obamacare continued to roll out, costs in the U.S. reached an all-time high of 17.5% of GDP. That’s over $3 trillion spent on healthcare annually, and the rate of spending is expected accelerate over the next decade.
High Costs, High Benefit?
With all that money being poured into healthcare, surely the U.S. must be getting better care in contrast to other high income countries.
At least, that’s what one would think.
Today’s chart comes to us from economist Max Roser (h/t @NinjaEconomics) and it shows the extreme divergence of the U.S. healthcare system using two simple stats: life expectancy vs. health expenditures per capita.
The Divergence of U.S. Healthcare
As you can see, Americans are spending more money – but they are not receiving results using the most basic metric of life expectancy. The divergence starts just before 1980, and it widens all the way to 2014.
It’s worth noting that the 2015 statistics are not plotted on this chart. However, given that healthcare spend was 17.5% of GDP in 2015, the divergence is likely to continue to widen. U.S. spending is now closing in on $10,000 per person.
Perhaps the most concerning revelation from this data?
Not only is U.S. healthcare spending wildly inefficient, but it’s also relatively ineffective. It would be one thing to spend more money and get the same results, but according to the above data that is not true. In fact, Americans on average will have shorter lives people in other high income countries.
Life expectancy in the U.S. has nearly flatlined, and it hasn’t yet crossed the 80 year threshold. Meanwhile, Chileans, Greeks, and Israelis are all outliving their American counterparts for a fraction of the associated costs.
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