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.