U.S. health care spending in an international context: Why is U.S. spending so high, and can we afford it?

Uwe E. Reinhardt, Peter S. Hussey, Gerard F Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using the most recent data on health spending published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we explore reasons why U.S. health spending towers over that of other countries with much older populations. Prominent among the reasons are higher U.S. per capita gross domestic product (GDP) as well as a highly complex and fragmented payment system that weakens the demand side of the health sector and entails high administrative costs. We examine the economic burden that health spending places on the U.S. economy. We comment on attempts by U.S. policy-makers to increase the prices foreign health systems pay for U.S. prescription drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-25
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2004


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Health Policy

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