Studies Show Countries With Universal Health Coverage Spend Less than U.S.

There have been countless groups who have challenged that universal health care would increase costs to taxpayers in the United States, but it appears that the existing system is already creating high costs.

In the paper “The Current and Projected Taxpayer Shares of US Health Costs,” of the American Journal of Public Health, evidence shows that in 2013 taxpayers funded 64.3 percent of healthcare.  This is more public dollars per person than people pay in other nations, including Sweden, Canada and France. This indicates a 4.5% increase since 1999, when taxpayer dollars accounted for 59.8 percent of total heath care spending.

Here are some significant results noted in the report:

  • The U.S. does too much spending per person:

According to the report, government spending on healthcare in 2013 totaled $1.9 trillion, or $4,197 per capita. When including private spending on health care, total spending was $9,086 per person. Switzerland was the only country whose private and public spending, taken together, exceeded the U.S.

Here’s how the U.S. compares to the competition:



“In 2013, the average U.S. resident spent $1,074 out-of-pocket on health care, for things like copayments for doctor’s office visits and prescription drugs and health insurance deductibles. Only the Swiss spent more at $1,630, while France and the Netherlands spent less than one-fourth as much ($277 and $270, respectively). As for other private health spending, including on private insurance premiums, U.S. spending towered over that of the other countries at $3,442 per capita—more than five times what was spent in Canada ($654), the second-highest spending country.” (


“Public spending on health care amounted to $4,197 per capita in the U.S. in 2013, more than in any other country except Norway ($4,981) and the Netherlands ($4,495), despite the fact that the U.S. was the only country studied that did not have a universal health care system. In the U.S., about 34 percent of residents were covered by public programs in 2013, including Medicare and Medicaid.7 By comparison, every resident in the United Kingdom is covered by the public system and spending was $2,802 per capita. Public spending on health care would be even greater in the U.S. if the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance (amounting to about $250 billion each year) was counted as a public expenditure (” reports, “At 11.2 percent, tax-funded health spending in the U.S. also accounted for a larger share of gross domestic product than total health expenditure of other nations.”

  • Public funding on healthcare is half the cost:

Public funded health coverage goes to the Veterans Administration and to programs like Medicare for seniors and people who are disabled, and to Medicaid, the joint state-federal program for low income Americans. These programs together made up 47.8 percent of overall health spending (USNews).


  • Spending increased with subsidies to private programs:

Government spending on public employees’ private health insurance coverage reached $188 billion, or 6.4 percent of total spending, and tax subsidies to health care reached $294.9 billion, or 10.1 percent of the total (USNews).


  • Obamacare is not the solution:

President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms are set to increase spending. By 2024, the government’s share of health care is projected to rise to 67.3 percent, according to the American Journal of Public Health.


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