Study shows U.S. spends most for health care

Although the United States has slowed the growth in its health care spending, U.S. spending remains far above that of other countries around the world, according to a new Viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Author David Squires, senior researcher at The Commonwealth Fund, analyzed health spending data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The data indicate that the factors that may have contributed to the U.S. health care spending growth slowdown, including the 2007–2009 financial crisis, also affected other countries.

It’s unlikely that the global slowdown in health care cost growth will continue, since health spending and economic growth are historically linked, Squires says. However, it’s possible that the spending slowdown will continue in the United States, and that the slower growth of recent years could have brought about lasting changes to our health care system.

It is also possible that the Affordable Care Act could temper spending increases that would otherwise accompany economic recovery, he says. But if “health spending resume its historic patterns, the U.S. will face formidable health care challenges that will place increasing pressure on stakeholders to institute dramatic changes in the organization and financing of care,” Squires says in the article.