Health care topped the economy as the biggest issue for voters now, here’s why

Spending on medical care is the highest it has ever been.

The United States spends 18.2 percent of gross domestic product on health care, up slightly from 2017, according to Statista. That amount has jumped more than 260 percent since 1960, when the U.S. spent 5 percent of GDP on health costs. In the past decade alone, the percentage of costs to GDP has risen roughly 10 percent.

Americans spend twice as much as any other high-income country in the world on medical care.

Yet utilization rates in the United States were largely similar to those in other nations, according to a recent academic paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. High prices for doctors and nurses, pharmaceuticals and administrative costs were major reasons for the disconnect in overall cost between the United States and other high-income countries, according to the research.

Even with the higher spending, Americans are certainly not healthier. Americans smoke less than other high-income countries but have a higher rate of obesity and infant mortality. The average life expectancy is nearly three years lower than other high-income countries, such as the United Kingdom, France and Australia.

The U.S. also has lower rates of coverage than other high-income countries. More than 90 percent of Americans have health care after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, but every other top 10 nation by comparison has at least 99 percent coverage for its population, according to the study.

Source: PwC Health Research Institute analysis of CMS national health expenditure data and Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

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