How Does Growth in Health Care Costs Affect the American Family?

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RAND Corporation
November 16, 2011
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Although family income grew throughout the decade, the financial benefits that the family might have realized were largely consumed by health care cost growth, leaving them with only $95 more per month than in 1999. Had health care costs tracked the rise in the Consumer Price Index, rather than outpacing it, an average American family would have had an additional $450 per month — more than $5,000 per year — to spend on other priorities.
 
Key findings of this report are:
  • Health care expenditures, including insurance premiums, out-of-pocket expenditures, and taxes devoted to health care, nearly doubled between 1999 and 2009.
     
  • This increase has substantially eroded what an average family has left to spend on everything else, leaving them with only $95 more per month than in 1999.
     
  • Had health care costs tracked the rise in the Consumer Price Index, rather than outpacing it, an average American family would have had an additional $450 per month — more than $5,000 per year — to spend on other priorities.

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