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30 Staggering Healthcare Statistics to Know in 2019

by Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD

Have you ever wondered about the true state of healthcare in the United States? We hear a lot about it in a negative context, but how much is real, and how much is hyperbole?

At MedAlertHelp, we wanted to sort the facts from the fiction. Here’s what you need to know about the current state of the healthcare industry based on actual healthcare statistics. We’ll look at the facts and see how the US measures up globally.

Key US Healthcare Facts and Statistics to Know in 2019:

  • Only 17.2% of Americans were covered by Medicare in 2017.
  • The United States could save $175 billion in healthcare costs by halving administrative costs.
  • The American healthcare industry was worth $24.7 billion in 1960. It is now worth $3,504 trillion.
  • Receiving care in the hospital for a heart attack will cost you an average of $20,246 in the United States.
  • You’ll pay 10 times as much for the anti-cancer drug Avastin in the US than in the UK.
  • Almost 4 out of 10 Americans are morbidly obese. Over 7 out of 10 are overweight.
  • Obesity-related health issues cost over $150 billion a year in the US alone.
  • 1.4 million Americans went overseas for medical care in 2017 to get a better deal.
  • By 2030, America will have at least 40,800 unfilled posts for physicians.
  • AI will revolutionize diagnostic practices.

The Most Important Medicare Facts

Healthcare Statistics

1. 17.2% of Americans were covered by Medicare in 2017.


Studies show that 82.8% of retirees in 2017 made use of private healthcare rather than using Medicare. So, if your primary plan for paying for medical expenses rests on relying on Medicare, it’s time to rethink. Only around 2 out of 10 Americans will be registered in terms of this program according to Medicare statistics.

2. The number of Americans opting to enroll in private healthcare plans has nearly tripled since 2004.

(2018 Medicare Trustees Report)

The number of Americans opting to enroll in private healthcare plans that contract into Medicare has increased from 12.8% to 34% between 2004 and 2017. This shows that Americans are willing to pay extra towards a higher standard of care. The trend, according to the Medicare Trustees Report, will continue upwards.

3. 58.4 million Americans were enrolled in the Medicare program in 2017.

(2018 Medicare Trustees Report)

Medicare enrollment statistics show that of these people, 49.5 million were 65 or over. The remaining 8.9 million were disabled.

4. 9.1% of Americans had no health insurance at all in 2017.


The most common reasons cited were that healthcare was unaffordable or that the respondents didn’t feel that they needed it. Considering the overall cost of getting insurance, it can be a significant financial burden to cash-strapped consumers.

5. The number of uninsured Americans has dropped from 48.6 million in 2010 to 29.3 million in 2017.


This is one area where America has shown significant progress. Pre-Obamacare statistics reveal that around 15.7% of Americans were uninsured in 2010. This dropped to 9.1% in 2017, and the drop can be attributed to the Obamacare legislation.

6. The hospital insurance (HI) trust fund could be depleted by 2026.

(2018 Medicare Trustees Report)

If this happens, the Medicare fund would have to rely on tax revenues to pay out claims. This could mean a cut in actual benefits. While the trustees note that Congress has never allowed this to happen before, could that change in future? If the government does not supplement this amount, could the future of healthcare in the United States be in jeopardy?

Rising Healthcare Costs Statistics

Healthcare Statistics

7. You’ll pay 10 times as much for the anti-cancer drug Avastin in the US than in the UK.


In 2015, in the United Kingdom, Avastin cost around $470. The exact same drug in the United States during the same period cost $3,930. According to a representative for the International Federation of Health Plans, the discrepancy was due to healthcare companies not negotiating the best rates. Others believe that it’s simply as a result of greed.

8. Receiving care in the hospital for a heart attack will cost you an average of $20,246.

(Business Insider)

US healthcare statistics show that hospitalizations in the United States are expensive. The cost of having a heart attack seems almost reasonable considering that getting patched up when you’ve broken a lower limb costs in the region of $16,976.

9. Administrative costs for healthcare in the United States are way above average.

(JAMA Network)

Because of its inefficiency, administrative costs in the United States account for around 8% of their overall healthcare costs. In other developed countries, the average is between 1% and 3%.

10. The United States could save $175 billion in healthcare costs by halving administrative costs.

(JAMA Network)

Administration of healthcare in the United States is acknowledged as being inefficient. AI and automation could assist in reducing the amount spent on administrative tasks and lead to greater efficiency in this area.

Healthcare Industry Statistics

Healthcare Statistics

11. The majority of Americans feel that healthcare in the United States is better in other countries around the globe.


While the United States is a well-developed country, not everyone agrees that the medical care received there is the best. Only 23% of Americans believe that they have access to the best healthcare in the world. 21% are undecided, and the rest believe that the United States does not offer the best healthcare.

12. Americans pay more for medical costs than other nations despite their medical care ranking last against the world’s leading developed countries.

(The Commonwealth Fund)

The Commonwealth Fund’s research showed that while Americans pay the highest healthcare costs, they also have the lowest healthcare outcomes. Mortality rates in the United States are higher than other developed countries, and the average life expectancy is 60.

13. Employers bear the brunt of healthcare costs in the United States.


In 2018, employers paid 75% of costs for healthcare while employees contributed the rest. Considering the average cost of hospital stay without insurance in the States, this is seen as a significant perk of the job.

14. Healthcare as a percentage of GDP in the United States has increased from 5% in 1960 to 18.2% in 2018.


Experts credit this increased percentage to the rising medical costs in the USA rather than as an indication of changing governmental priorities.

15. The American healthcare industry was worth $24.7 billion in 1960. It is now worth $3,504 trillion.


Health care spending statistics show that the healthcare industry in the United States has seen significant growth over the last five decades. This can be attributed to rising healthcare costs and a population that has become a lot more health-conscious.

16. There are 2.6 doctors per 1000 patients in the United States.

(JAMA Network)

In this area, the United States is on par with other developed nations. While the ratio is average, it still indicates that there is a shortage of doctors.

The Effects of the American Obesity Epidemic

Healthcare Statistics

17. 300,000 premature deaths a year in the United States can be attributed to obesity.

(Stanford Health Care)

US healthcare statistics from 2017 list obesity as a serious cause for concern. Obesity significantly increases your risk of medical diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Considering that obesity is preventable through a healthy diet and regular exercise, more needs to be done to educate the population and reduce the mortality rate linked to obesity.

18. Obesity-related health issues cost over $150 billion a year in the US alone.

(Stanford Health Care)

According to various Obamacare statistics, treating health issues related to obesity costs a approximately $150 billion a year.

19. West Virginia has the largest number of overweight or obese people in the US.


Obesity is considered one of the worst health risks globally. West Virginia has the dubious honor of being the state with the highest number of overweight or obese people in it.

20. Statistics in healthcare show that almost 4 out of 10 Americans are morbidly obese. Over 7 out of 10 are overweight.


According to the CDC, nearly 40% of Americans are obese. This is of serious concern because obesity has been linked to a range of different lifestyle diseases. By contrast, only 4% of Japanese citizens are overweight.

The Effects of Rising Healthcare Costs

Healthcare Statistics

21. 1.4 million Americans went overseas for medical care in 2017 to get a better deal.

(American Journal of Medicine)

Medical tourism has become a popular way to dodge high healthcare costs in America. In the last decade, the number of American citizens traveling overseas for medical care has almost doubled. Medical tourists are most likely to go to South America.

22. If you want to make the most money as a doctor, the United States is your best bet.

(JAMA Network)

Universal health care statistics show that a physician in the United States makes an average of $218,173 per year. The average in other developed nations is between $86,607 and $154,126.

23. A retiree in the United States can expect to pay around $5,000 out of pocket for medical expenses a year.

(Fidelity Investments)

That figure is assuming they do have Medicare as well. For those expenses covered by Medicare, only 80% of the bill is paid. There are many instances, though, where coverage is zero. One area where this is the case is with nursing care.

24. About 4% of Americans declare bankruptcy as a result of high medical bills.

(New England Journal of Medicine)

Health insurance statistics show that unexpected medical costs in the United States can burn through savings fast. As a result, 4% of Americans will declare medical bankruptcy to get by.

The Future of Healthcare

Healthcare Statistics

25. AI will revolutionize diagnostic practices.

(American Journal of Medicine)

Scientists are currently working on applications that help to support the healthcare industry. AI offers real benefits when it comes to the analysis and interpretation of large amounts of data. This could help to ease the costs of medical care and help to diagnose the symptoms of disease more accurately. Healthcare statistics from 2018 show that this tech will be ready soon.

26. Alexa will be able to diagnose a cold.


That might not sound so impressive – it’s not that hard to figure out that you have a cold. How Alexa will do it, though, is what’s impressive. Amazon is developing an app that will allow Alexa to pick up that you are coughing.

27. You’ll be able to get a diagnosis without leaving home.


Amazon recently started moving into the healthcare field. Their vision is simple enough – you contact a virtual doctor to discuss your symptoms with. The doctor will make suggestions and, if necessary, order a diagnostic test to be delivered. You’ll take the test, mail it back. The doctor will then confirm the diagnosis and issue a prescription. This will be delivered to your home.

28. Drones will be used to collect blood samples from those in rural areas.

(World Economic Forum)

Drones could play a number of roles in United States healthcare system. They could also be used to deliver medication and collect other samples. This should increase access to medicine for people in rural areas.

29. By 2030, America will have at least 40,800 unfilled posts for physicians.

(JAMA Network)

One thing that is driving up the cost of medical treatment in the USA is a skills shortage. The Association of American Medical Colleges has before highlighted the fact that there is a shortage of primary care physicians in particular. They predict that there will be between 40,800 and 104,900 unfilled posts for physicians by 2030.

30. Health insurance providers will focus more on incentivizing healthy behaviors.

(World Economic Forum)

For example, the American healthcare company, John Hancock is subsidizing the purchase of an Apple watch for their members on the condition that members adopt a regular exercise program. This is a win-win for both client and insurance provider.


Healthcare Statistics

Why are statistics important in the healthcare field?

Statistics are important in any field but are particularly important in the healthcare field. There are many different types of health statistics.

They show us:

  • How much we are spending on healthcare
  • How many people are insured or uninsured
  • What gaps there are in coverage
  • The patterns of disease in a particular population
  • And a lot more

It’s essential to have a clear picture of the actual state of healthcare based on hard evidence. Otherwise, we are bound to make assumptions that will later prove completely incorrect.

What percentage of GDP is healthcare?

Here’s where the importance of statistics in healthcare shines through. In the United States, healthcare spending accounted for 17.9% of the GDP in 2017. In the United Kingdom in 2016, healthcare spending accounted for just 9.8% of the GDP.

Considering that the United Kingdom has a National Health Service that allows citizens access to free medical care, this seems like quite a disparity until you compare healthcare costs between the two countries.

Healthcare providers in the United States earn more, and drug prices are a lot higher.

What is the United States healthcare system?

The United States does not have a national health care service. If you need treatment for an illness or injury, you’ll need to have insurance or have to pay out of pocket. This is the most striking difference when comparing US vs. UK healthcare statistics.

The government programs fall under two basic plans:

1. Medicaid

This is designed to assist those with low income. It covers benefits that Medicare does not necessarily cover, such as the cost of a nursing home. Eligibility depends on your personal income and the resources at your disposal. It’s assessed on a case by case basis and is more difficult to qualify for. Healthcare disparities statistics indicate that a lot more assistance is required.

2. Medicare

Interestingly enough, Medicare is not based on affordability at all. For those aged 65 and over, if they qualify for, or are currently receiving social security benefits, they may be eligible. If they’re applying, they have to be a US citizen and have lived in the country for five years continuously before applying.

Medicare is not free, but the premium you pay is substantially less than for standard health insurance. It also does not cover all your costs – Medicare will cover up to 80% of their contract rate. The remainder is for your account. If you see a doctor that charges more than the standard rate, you are liable for the portion that exceeds the Medicare rate as well.

Medicare consists of the following four parts:

  • Part A: Hospital/hospice insurance
  • Part B: Medical insurance
  • Part C: Medicare Advantage plans
  • Part D: Prescription drug plans

Private Insurance

US healthcare statistics from 2018 indicate that there is a huge reliance on private insurance in the country.

How much does the average person spend on medical care?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spent $4,342 on healthcare in 2017. Of that, an average of $3,414 was spent on health insurance. Healthcare expenditure was up 6.9% from 2016. Health insurance increased by an average of 8% from 2016. Still, it’s not so bad when you consider the cost of medical procedures without insurance.

Why is it important to have health care?

You might never be sick a day in your life and then develop a terrible disease like cancer. You could be involved in a serious accident tomorrow. Or you could be the victim of a terrorist attack. Or maybe you’re seemingly perfectly healthy and have a heart attack.

While you might manage your day to day medical expenses, health care is essential for those times when you require more intensive care. A hospital stay could end up costing thousands of dollars, even for a routine procedure.


Rising healthcare costs in the US are a cause for serious concern and an issue that is not easily solved. Healthcare statistics in the United States show us that there is a large disparity between the level of care that patients receive and what they have to pay for it.

The future does look a little brighter, though. The development of AI and forays into the healthcare industry by retail giants like Amazon bode well for the cost of medical care in the future. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, this is going to be the most positive effect of retailers getting involved in this industry.

List of Sources:

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