Americans Currently Pay the Highest Health-related Taxes in the World

Americans pay the world’s highest health-related taxes. Yet many perceive that US health care financing system is predominantly private, in contrast to the universal tax-funded health care systems in nations such as Canada, France, or the United Kingdom. By 2024, government expenditures in the United States are expected to account for more than two thirds of national health spending. This is nearly the same proportion as in Canada, where official figures put government’s share at 70.7% (although this figure excludes modest tax subsidies for supplemental private coverage).

Even as overall US health expenditures soared over the past half century, taxpayers’ share grew substantially. After correction for differences in the methods used to estimate tax subsidies, the public share increased from about 31% in 1965 (before Medicare and Medicaid) to about 56% in 1980, 60% in 1999, and 64.3% in 2013.”

David U. Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, 2016: “The Current and Projected Taxpayer Shares of US Health Costs,” American Journal of Public Health 106, pp. 449_452, March, 2016. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302997

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