Medical Mystery: Something Happened to U.S. Health Spending After 1980
The spending began soaring beyond that of other advanced nations, but without the same benefits in life expectancy.
The United States devotes a lot more of its economic resources to health care than any other nation, and yet its health care outcomes aren’t better for it. That hasn’t always been the case. America was in the realm of other countries in per-capita health spending through about 1980. Then it diverged. It’s the same story with health spending as a fraction of gross domestic product. Likewise, life expectancy. In 1980, the U.S. was right in the middle of the pack of peer nations in life expectancy at birth. But by the mid-2000s, we were at the bottom of the pack. What happened?