Health Care Spending in the United States and Selected OECD Countries

Kaiser Family Foundation
April 2011

Compared to other developed nations, the U.S. spends more on health care per capita and devotes a greater share of its GDP to health. Since 1980, the U.S. also has had among the highest average annual growth rates in per capita spending on health care. Despite this relatively high level of spending, the U.S. does not appear to provide substantially greater health resources to its citizens, or achieve substantially better health benchmarks, compared to other developed countries. Faced with expanding public deficits, and growing health care costs, American policy makers may elect to examine the tools employed by other countries to rein in costs. The growing difference between America’s spending and other developed countries may encourage an examination of what people in the U.S. are getting for their healthcare dollar.

This update of health care spending in the United States, as compared with other nations, provides useful graphs that define the magnitude of the problem which is only growing worse. Since the cost containment measures of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have very little impact on slowing the cost growth, we should consider the advice offered in this report: American policy makers should “examine the tools employed by other countries to rein in costs.” We need to bring single payer to the table – now!