Tax-funded expenditures accounted for 64.3 percent of U.S. health spending – about $1.9 trillion – in 2013, according to new data published today [Thursday, Jan. 21] in the American Journal of Public Health. The Affordable Care Act will push that figure even higher by 2024, when government’s share of U.S. health spending is expected to rise to 67.3 percent.
At $5,960 per capita, government spending in on health care costs in the U.S. was the highest of any nation in 2013, including countries with universal health programs such as Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom. (Estimated total U.S. health spending for 2013 was $9,267 per capita, with government’s share being $5,960.) Indeed, government health spending in the United States exceeded total health spending (government plus private) in every other country except Switzerland.
The finding that Americans pay the world’s highest health-related taxes conflicts with popular perceptions that the U.S. health care financing system is predominantly private, write Drs. David U. Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, the authors of the study. Himmelstein and Woolhandler are professors at the City University of New York School of Public Health and lecturers in medicine at Harvard Medical School.