US Healthcare Costs Top Trillion/Year

March 12, 2001 ( - America now spends over a trillion dollars on health care, with prescription drugs making up nearly 10% of the total.

Overall health care spending is expected to more than double by 2010, reaching $2.6 trillion, according to economists at the Health Care Financing Administration.  By then, prescription drug costs are expected to be increasing at a 12.6% annual rate, totaling $366 billion.  However, that estimate does not take into account the expense if drugs were fully covered under Medicare.

Americans spent $99.6 billion on prescription drugs in 1999, the latest year for which figures were available, according to the study.  While prescription drugs made up 9.4% of personal health care spending in 1999, by 2010 that could be 16% by 2010.

Individuals spent $34.9 billion out of their own pockets last year on drugs, compared with:

  • $30.7 billion for doctor/clinic visits
  • $12.6 billion for hospital care

The government publishes the health care spending forecasts in the journal Health Affairs, projecting expenditures on health care by patients, their insurance plans and government programs.