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Published: May 19, 2020

As health costs balloon, primary care spending stays relatively flat

Although U.S. spending on health care nearly doubled between 2002 -2016, new research finds that spending on primary care stayed relatively stable during that period. The national health expenditure ballooned from $810 billion in 2002 to more than $1.6 trillion in 2016. Inpatient visits, prescriptions, and specialty care were the biggest drivers behind the increase in health expenses, while primary care only made up 4% of the cost increase. At the same time, the overall spending on primary care decreased slightly over the study period, from making up 6.5% of all health costs in 2002 to 5.4% of costs 14 years later. Given the benefits of primary care — including making health care easier to access for many people — the authors of the study write that the U.S. needs to further invest in primary care.


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