What Are the Biggest Drivers of Cost in U.S. Health Care?

The United States spent an estimated $2.5 trillion on health care in 2009, according to the federal government's National Health Expenditure Accounts.

This translated to 17.6 percent of the country's gross domestic product and per capita costs of $8,086, and trend lines indicate further increases under the current scenario.

High costs in health care strain state and federal governments and make it difficult for people to afford health insurance.

Significant factors driving growth in spending are obesity, higher drug costs, administrative costs and low productivity gains in health care. Surprisingly, less important factors include demographics, expanded access and malpractice claims.

This Health Policy Snapshot, published online in July 2011, examines the factors driving health care spending growth.

Read more from RWJF's Health Policy Snapshot series.



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U.S. has highest per capita costs in world. What are the biggest drivers of cost?