Health Care Costs 101: Spending Growth Slowed

Katherine Wilson, Wilson Analytics


Teaser Graphic: Who paid for health care over the past 50 years?National health spending grew by 4.3% in 2016, slightly lower than the 5.8% growth in 2015. US health spending reached $3.3 trillion in 2016, or $10,348 per capita, and accounted for 17.9% of gross domestic product (GDP). The slower growth was due, in part, to decelerating growth in enrollment and decreased spending on prescription drugs.

The Health Care Costs 101 series of reports, which relies on the most recent data available, details how much is spent on health care in the US, which services are purchased, and who is paying for what. Health Care Costs 101: Spending Rose with More Coverage and Care, released in 2017, reports on data from 2015.

Key findings include:

  • Prescription drug spending slowed significantly, increasing by 1.3% in 2016, compared to 8.9% in 2015. The decrease was due, in part, to lower spending for drugs used to treat hepatitis C.
  • Federal government spending grew 3.9% ($35 billion) in 2016, slower than spending by business and households.
  • Out-of-pocket spending increased by 3.9% in 2016, faster than the 2.8% increase in 2015, partially due to increased cost sharing for those with private insurance.
  • Per capita health spending increased by 3.5%, down from 5.0% in 2015.

The 2016 spending summary is available for download. Full reports with previous years’ data, as well as charts and quick reference guides, are available under Document Downloads.