U.S. healthcare spending growth rate ranks second among developed countries

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The United States not only spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country, it also has one of the fastest growth rates in health spending among developed countries, according to a new study. Nursing home care, most of which is paid by government sources, is considered one of the most expensive long-term care options.

The U.S. average annual growth rate for healthcare between 1980 and 2003 was the second highest among 19 countries analyzed, the Kaiser Family Foundation found. Its report, "Snapshots: Health Care Costs," said the Americans' 4.4% growth trailed only behind Luxembourg, whose annual growth rate was 5.6% over the period.

Per capita healthcare spending in the U.S. in 2003 far surpassed the spending of other countries. The U.S. spent $5,711 per capita that year. Next were Luxembourg at $4,611 and Switzerland at $3,847.