HC Statistics

Is the U.S. a single-payer system?

Most people stereotype European economies as a single payer system whereas the U.S. uses a system of private insurance that is largely unregulated.  This characterization is largely false.  The U.S. has extensive regulation.  Further, the U.S. federal government pays for the largest share of health care.  According to a CHCF report, in 2010, the federal government became the largest financer of health care (29% of spending), surpassing households (28%) for the first time.  State and local government spending on healthcare made up 16% of total spending.

More details on government spending in the U.S. below:

  • Spending on Medicare and Medicaid together consumed 23% of the federal budget, exceeding defense spending by three percentage points.
  • The federal government spent half of its revenues on health care; health care costs only consumed 6% of personal income.
  • Public health insurance paid for 39% of the nation’s health care; private health insurance paid for 33%.  Out-of-pocket spending by consumers accounted for 12% of all spending, a figure which has been declining for many years.
  • In 2010, Medicare spending per enrollee was $11,259 and Medicaid spending per enrollee was $7,489, compared to $4855 per enrollee in an employer-sponsored plan.

The U.S. may not be a single payer system, but the U.S. does dedicate a larger share of its economy to public health insurance programs than Canada, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland or the United Kingdom.



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