Health Care Facts & Figures

Health Care


Every year, nearly 11 million children around the world die before reaching their 5th birthday, most from preventable causes. That is approximately, 30,000 children per day. Pneumonia – commonly spread through a lack of hygiene – is the number one killer, accounting for more than 1,000 deaths a day worldwide.


One of the most basic hygiene problems that haunt developing communities is lack of adequate toilets. Around the world, about 2.5 billion people do not have proper toilets. Among them, 1 billion people defecate in the open — in fields, bushes and bodies of water — putting themselves and their community in danger of fecal-oral diseases, like hepatitis, cholera and dysentery. Children are especially susceptible to these diseases when their home and “playgrounds” are overrun with rubbish and human waste.


Over 30 countries spend a greater share of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on child care and early education than the US.

Organisation for EconomicCo-operation and Development (OECD)


The US is the only major Western economic power without universal health care system in which health care is considered a human right.

Of 17 high-income countries, the US has the highest or near-highest prevalence of obesity, car accidents, infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, and homicides.

National Institutes of Health

Of the healthcare systems of 11 developed countries, the US healthcare system is the most expensive and worst-performing in terms of health access, efficiency, and equity.

The Atlantic

American health care is the most expensive in the world, with 17.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on healthcare. This is significantly more than other developed countries. Australia, for comparison, which spends the least, spends only 8.9%.

Yet for all this expense, life expectancy in the U.S. ranks 39th in world.

There are 82 million Americans living in areas that have a shortage of primary medical care.

60% of U.S. adults have at least one chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. 40% of adults have 2 or more.

13% of all Americans, 16% of Black Americans and 20% of Hispanic Americans say there was a time in the past year when they needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost.

Due to cost in the past year, 21% of Americans say that they or a family member skipped a recommended medical treatment or test. 33% say that they did not take their medicines as prescribed at some point and 31% say that they or a family member relied on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs instead of going to see a doctor.

13% of Americans say there was a time in the past year when they needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost.

50% of Americans age 65 and older living alone say they lack the financial resources to pay for basic needs.

12% of Americans say that they would not be able to cover an emergency expense of $400.

There are approximately 45,000 deaths linked to a lack of health coverage – twice what was reported in 2002 by the Institute of Medicine.

According to a study of 9.5 million cancer patients, 42% of new cancer patients lost their entire life savings in 2 years because of the treatment. The average amount a cancer patient lost was $92,098 and 62% are in debt.

In 1973, 53% of Americans had a great deal of confidence in medicine. Since then the number has dropped to 38%.

The top 10 health care companies in the U.S. with their annual revenue:
  • CVS — $257.3 billion
  • UnitedHealth Group — $240.3 billion
  • McKesson — $224.9 billion
  • AmerisourceBergen — $182.1 billion
  • Cigna — $153.7 billion
  • Cardinal Health — $149.7 billion
  • Walgreens — $137.4 billion
  • Anthem — $104.2 billion
  • Johnson & Johnson — $82.1 billion
  • Centene — $74.6 billion


U.S. health care spending grew 4.6% in 2018, reaching $3.6 trillion. The U.S. spends 17% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care — more than any other nation.

The World Health Organization

64% of health spending is paid for by the government, funded via programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Veterans Health Administration.

American Journal of Public Health

Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, despite the fact that they develop breast cancer at the same rates.

Undocumented immigrants contribute approximately $13 billion into Social Security and $3 billion to Medicare each year. Since undocumented immigrants don’t have Social Security numbers and are not authorized to work legally in the U.S., they are not eligible for any Social Security benefits, whether they’ve paid into the system or not.

In the U.S., 20% of organs for transplants come from the uninsured, who if they need a transplant often can’t afford it, aren’t insured, or their insurance won’t pay for it.


The number of uninsured Americans peaked in 2010 just after the Great Recession at about 50 million. By 2016, this had dropped to 27 million. (approximately 9% of the U.S population) with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Census Bureau

6% of White Americans, 7% of Asian Americans, 10% of Black Americans and 19% of Hispanic Americans do not have health insurance.

From 2010 to 2020, the average annual health insurance deductible increased 111%.

From 2010 to 2020, the annual premiums for health insurance coverage for families of 2 or more increased 55%.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the two main state-federal health programs covered 1,000,000 fewer children in 2018 than they did in 2017.

U.S. Census Bureau

Latinos are most likely to lack health insurance in the US and their insurance rates nationwide have grown fastest since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The proportion of people living below the poverty line who lacked health insurance had fallen from 28% to 17% in states that expanded Medicaid coverage under the law, while the rate remained unchanged at 36% in states that did not.

The Commonwealth Fund

20% of people in the US under 65 with health insurance reported problems paying their bills.

53% of those without health insurance said the same.


25% of adults without health insurance coverage say that they went without care in the past year because of its cost, compared to 4% of those with health insurance. 55% of uninsured adults do not have a regular place to go when they are sick of need medical advice.

If being uninsured was a cause of death, it would be the 10th most common one in the U.S.

The health insurance industry in the U.S. employs over 500,000 people.

Life Expectancy

The U.S. spends $11,172 per person per year for health care and has a life expectancy of 79 years – among the lowest in the developing world.

Switzerland spends $8,009 per person and has a life expectancy of 82 years.

Germany spends $5,728 per person and life expectancy there is 80 years.

Sweden spends $5,511 per person and has a life expectancy of 82 years.

Canada spends $4,826 and life expectancy there is 82 years

Japan spends $4,717 and life expectancy is 83 years.

KFF and The World Bank

On average, a U.S. male can be expected to live almost 4 fewer years than those in the top-ranked country.

National Institutes of Health

There is about a 20 year gap between the U.S. county with the highest life expectancy (Summit, Colorado – 86.8 years) and the U.S. county with the lowest life expectancy (Oglala Lakota/Shannon, South Dakota – 66.81 years) which is about the same as the gap between the US and Haiti.


Life expectancy for both men and women in the U.S. varies by income. For example, the richest American men live 15 years longer than the poorest men, while the richest American women live 10 years longer than the poorest women.

Medical/Maternity Leave

96% of working single mothers said paid leave to care for themselves or a sick family member would help them the most.

Bread for the World

The United States is the only developed country without paid maternity leave.

Bread for the World

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed in 1993, grants workers the right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. However most low income families cannot afford to take unpaid leave. In addition FMLA does not apply to all workers. Approximately 44% of private sector workers are not eligible – either because they work for a company with fewer than 50 employees or they have not worked the required 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.

Bread for the World

In a survey of 7,000 small firms (less than 50 employees) that offer Family and Medical Leave Act (FLMA) voluntarily, 1% said that it affected them negatively. 33% reported a positive effect and the other 66% reported no noticeable effect.

U.S. Department of Labor

In 1971 the US very nearly had a comprehensive federal childcare policy. The Comprehensive Child Development Act (CCDA) passed with broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate but President Nixon vetoed it, saying that it would “Sovietize” the American family.

Bread for the World

The US has the highest number of maternal deaths in the developed world and 60% of these are preventable.

National Public Radio

The Poor

People who live in high-poverty neighborhoods are twice as likely to be hospitalized for flu than those in low-poverty communities.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Doctors are more likely to prescribe medicine to affluent people. Those in the two highest income categories were twice as likely as their lower-income counterparts.

The American Journal of Public Health

Those in lower economic strata are likelier to catch a disease and they are also more likely to die from it. For example, low income is associated with higher rates of chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease etc.

The New York Times

Many of the people society has come to depend on during a health crisis such as food pickers, packers, truck drivers, cashiers and cooks are among the lowest paid, those who can’t work from home, need to take mass transit, can’t afford day care for their children and don’t have health insurance or paid sick leave.

Paid Sick Leave

Most low paid workers cannot afford to stay home when they are sick and must choose between getting paid or taking care of themselves.

The New York Times

Approximately 20% of food service workers come to work at least once each year “while sick with vomiting or diarrhea.”

The Center for Disease Control

Novovirus, a major cause of food poisoning, sickens approximately 20 million Americans and kills several hundred each year. Outbreaks are often traced back to sick food service workers.

The New York Times

Paid sick leave is standard in other developed nations, 13 states and in some large cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington D.C.

The New York Times

Providing paid sick leave would cost employers an average of 2.7 cents per hour of paid work.

The New York Times


Dr. Jonas Salk who created the vaccine for polio in 1955 did not patent his vaccine and did not profit from it.

In 1923, Frederick Banting and his team won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin. It could have made him very rich, but he wanted insulin to be available to everyone so decided to give the patent away for free.

Today a patient with Type 1 diabetes incurs an annual insulin costs of $5,705, on average.

In 2018,
  • HCA Healthcare’s CEO made $109 million
  • Intuitive Surgical’s CEO made $99 million
  • Pfizer’s CEO made $47 million
  • Johnson & Johnson’s CEO made $46 million
  • Humana’s CEO made $27 million
During the same period,  20% of Americans skipped needed medical care due to costs.