US spent $2.7 trillion on healthcare in 2011, but growth remains steady

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 10 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f199
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

Total US healthcare spending reached $2.7 trillion in 2011, or $8680 (£5410; €6625) per person, show figures released by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.1 The relatively low 3.9% rise from 2010 was roughly in line with growth in the economy, and for the third straight year spending remained at 17.9% of gross domestic product. Previous years had seen higher rises in healthcare spending, such as 7.6% in 2007.

The intriguing but unanswered question is whether this deceleration in healthcare spending is the effect of the economic recession or whether it represents a fundamental restructuring of healthcare delivery and costs.

Among the fastest growing components of healthcare spending in 2011 were increases in personal spending, prescription drugs, and physician and clinical services. These were …

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