Reminder: The US Spends Far More On Health Care Than Other Countries

It's a well known fact that the U.S. spends much more than other industrialized countries on health care, but just how much more can be surprising. Ezra Klein over at Wonkblog highlights 21 graphs comparing the costs of various procedures in different countries, including routine doctor exams, hospital stays, various surgeries, and different drug prices, using data from the International Federation of Health Plans. The U.S. stands out in every example, and it comes as no surprise that the U.S. spends much more as a percentage of GDP on health care, when including public and private spending together.

Source: IFHP

The U.S. spends almost double the OECD average of health care spending as a percentage of GDP, and roughly less half of that by the federal government. Federal spending on health care is projected to rise in the coming years, driven especially by population aging in the next two decades. Without reforms, health care could begin to dominate the federal budget, shifting funds away from other priorities.

This graph is a reminder that lawmakers need to begin looking at ways to control federal spending on health care, a few of which are presented in our Revenue and Health Care Savings Options paper. The longer we wait to address entitlement reform, the more difficult the problem will be to solve.