Why United States Per Capita Spending is High

Quality of Life

One thing that is extremely vexing and confusion about the United States is the amount of money spent per capita on healthcare and the supposedly related healthcare outcomes that are seen within that same country. Given how high the per capita spending happens to be, it would stand to reason that the healthcare outcomes in the United States would be better than countries that have lesser outcomes. However, that is simply not the case and it is worthwhile to explore why that happens to be the case. While it may be lifestyle choices, inefficiency of care or something else, there is clearly something amiss with the spending that is going on or what it is really having to address.

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The Real Causes

Since the healthcare and societal structures of the United States are so complex, it is fairly obvious that there would also not be a singular cause for the entirety of the problem. Rather, the ostensible ineffectual and inefficient nature of healthcare spending in the United States is probably due to a combination of factors and it is also reasonable to expect that multiple factors will manifest with a singular person a lot of the time. One example would be smoking. Like many other nasty habits that drain health and shorten lives, avoiding or quitting smoking is very much about health no matter what level and type of interventions are put in place. When it comes to the efficacy of just about any healthcare intervention, that has to be kept in mind. However, this is particularly true when it comes to habits that have no real redeeming healthcare outcomes, and that would include smoking. Beyond that, smoking itself would absolutely cause a spike in per capita healthcare costs. Given that there is no health benefit to smoking, that is obviously a factor in why the return on investment seen in United States healthcare is so low (Fierman et al., 2016).

Activities that usually or can result in negative healthcare outcomes and, by extension, more spending related to the same are probably a huge part of why per capita spending is so high in the United States. One that is not nearly as monolithic as smoking would be eating habits. Higher caloric intake combined with more sedentary lifestyles surely leads to a lot of problems that are healthcare related. Indeed, such a nasty combination can induce or aggravate things like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, strokes and cancer, just to name a few things. True, many of those conditions can be managed and mitigated over time but the healthcare costs involved with doing so are much higher than they normally would be for a healthy person of the age range in question. There is also a concern that mental health problems enter the fray when obesity is a problem that is present (Rudisill, Charlton, Booth & Guiliford, 2016).

Even with human nature and behavior causing a lot of the healthcare costs through bad behavior and habits, there are also surely some systemic issues at hand. Indeed, there are many people in the scholarly sphere that suggest that United States healthcare system is inefficient to the tune of millions or billions of dollars. Just one aspect of that problem is avoiding and identifying errors. Even the models to measure the same are often flawed and have to be reconfigured at times (Tappenden & Chilcott, 2014).


As has been made clear through this brief research report, there is most certainly a problem when it comes to the healthcare outcomes and spending of the United States. It is clear that some of the problems are a result of bad societal and cultural trends but the healthcare system itself has its own fences to mend. The one and true solution to this overall issue is to identify and address the problems as they exist so that the entirety of the problem is dealt with and the overall cost of healthcare per capita can truly come down.


Feirman, S., Glasser, A., Teplitskaya, L., Holtgrave, D., Abrams, D., Niaura, R., & Villanti, A.

(2016). Medical costs and quality-adjusted life years associated with smoking: a systematic review. BMC Public Health, 16(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-


Rudisill, C., Charlton, J., Booth, H., & Gulliford, M. (2016). Are healthcare costs from obesity associated with body mass index, comorbidity or depression? Cohort study using electronic health records. Clinical Obesity, 6(3), 225-231.


Tappenden, P., & Chilcott, J. (2014). Avoiding and Identifying Errors and Other Threats to the Credibility of Health Economic Models. Pharmacoeconomics, 32(10), 967-979.


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