Cost of Healthcare in the United States

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・6 Sources

The cost of healthcare is a significant factor in the United States’ overall healthcare system. This element directly impacts on the nation’s economy and healthcare delivery. The per-person spending on care in the United States has reportedly significantly risen over the years. It has negatively impacted on low-income families, people with preexisting health conditions, and marginalized groups. This paper will discuss the healthcare cost’s historical background, effect on care delivery, and the impact of current reforms.

Historical Background and Influence on Healthcare Delivery

Over the last half a century, the expenditure of the United States on healthcare as a percentage of the Gross National Product has steadily risen: From 5% in 1960 to 17.8% in 2015 (Catlin & Cowan, 2015; CMS, 2016). Similarly, health insurance cost, which has a direct impact on access to healthcare, is increasing ( McVeigh & Wolfer, 2004). This trend is linked to the elevating medication and administrative costs, and the national policies that allow the operation of profit-based healthcare insurance firms. The estimates of the Department of Health and Human Services indicate that the annual per person spending is projected to surpass ten thousand dollars in 2017 (Alonso-Zaldivar, 2016). People ailing from pre-existing health conditions such as cancer and depression are consequently charged exorbitant insurance prices, which leads to acquisition of a limited coverage by the affected populations. Some low-income families end up living without a health indemnity plan, or fully depend on public insurance programs such as the Medicaid (Roux & Halstead, 2017). Approximately eighty-four percent of Americans, for example, had at-least a form of health insurance as at the year 2010, which implies that nearly forty-nine million persons were uninsured by that year (Krueger & Kuziemko, 2013).

Impact of Current Healthcare Reforms

Healthcare reforms have greatly improved access to healthcare by pooling resources, spreading the medical care expense related financial risk, and the provision of assistance to persons who cannot afford an insurance cover. These include the provision of social welfare and insurance plans such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPS), Medicaid and Medicare ( McVeigh & Wolfer, 2004). Some of these initiatives have not fully minimized the cost of healthcare. For example, the Medicare program has not had a significant impact on reduction of the elderly’s expenditure on health as members of this age group are still required to pay roughly a quarter of their income for the service despite the omission of vital components such as nursing home care and prescription drugs in the coverage. Medicaid, on the other hand has been directly linked to low quality care ( McVeigh & Wolfer, 2004). Nevertheless, more current policies and legislation have also significantly enhanced access to health care through subsidization of medical services. For instance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of the year 2010. The commonly known as the Obamacare law, was aimed at supporting individuals who could not afford the acquisition and servicing of a health insurance, and to ensure that every American has a health insurance plan so that the cost of coverage could be evenly spread across the entire American population. The implementation of the regulation has led to a significant reduction in the uninsured rate from 18% in 2013 to 11% in 2016, as per a Gallup poll. The rise in coverage has been reported in all demographics and age groups, according to the National Health Interview Survey data. The Affordable Care Act also led to a reduction in insurance premiums besides the provision of an extended coverage and improved healthcare quality (Amadeo, 2015).


The rising cost of healthcare in America results mainly from the increasing medication and administrative costs, and the commercialization of the insurance industry. Increasing health insurance cover premiums has negative impacts to low income families, persons with preexisting health conditions and other vulnerable groups of people such as the elderly. Some interventions by the federal Government have however enhanced access healthcare to a wider portion of the U.S. population despite the rising costs. For instance, the Affordable Care Act of the year 2010 has significantly improved the rate of health insurance coverage among all demographics and age groups in America.


McVeigh, F. J., & Wolfer, L. T. (2004). Brief history of social problems: A critical thinking approach. Maryland: University Press of America.

Alonso-Zaldivar, R. (2016). $10,345 per person: U.S. health care spending reaches new peak. Retrieved from PBS Newshour:

Amadeo, K. (2015). The ultimate Obamacare handbook (2015Ð2016 edition): A Definitive guide to your benefits, rights, responsibilities, and potential pitfalls. Delaware: Skyhorse Publishing.

Catlin, A. C., & Cowan, C. A. (2015). History of health spending in the United States, 1960-2013. Retrieved from Center of Medicare and Medicaid: CMS. (2016). National Health Expenditure Data. Retrieved from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

Krueger, A. B., & Kuziemko, I. (2013). The demand for health insurance among uninsured Americans: Results of a survey experiment and implications for policy. Journal of Health Economics, 32(5), 780–793.

Roux, G., & Halstead, J. A. (2017). Issues and trends in nursing (Second ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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