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Health Care Spending in the United States and Other High-Income Countries

March 13, 2018
By Irene Papanicolas, Liana R. Woskie, Ashish K. Jha

This study uses economic and health care data to compare how spending on health care influences public health outcomes.

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This study, written by Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health visiting assistant professor Irene Papanicolas, uses economic and health care data from the U.S. and 10 economically developed countries participating in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to compare how spending on health care influences public health outcomes.

Health care costs more in the U.S. than it does in other countries, Papanicola writes, but the quality of care is not higher.

“The United States spends more per capita on health care than any other nation, substantially outpacing even other very high-income countries,” Papanicolas wrote. “Than any other nation, substantially outpacing even other very high-income countries. However, despite its higher spending, the United States performs poorly in areas such as health care coverage and health outcomes. Higher spending without commensurate improved health outcomes at the population level has been a strong impetus for health care reform in the United States.”