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Even as private citizens continue to pay a greater percentage of their paychecks for healthcare, new data say that the government is picking up the biggest portion of healthcare spending overall—64.3% as of 2013. Of particular note, Medicare spending rose about 2.5% between 1999 and 2013. The data, which are published online in the American Journal of Public Health, reflect direct government payments for Medicare, Medicaid, and other public programs (eg, the Veterans Health Administration, National Institutes of Health, and public health departments); government agencies’ expenditures for public employees’ health insurance coverage; and federal, state, and local tax healthcare subsidies. All-in, tax-funded health expenditures totaled $1.877 trillion out of $2.919 total healthcare spending in 2013. Authors David Himmelstein, MD, and Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH predict that taxpayer-funded health expenditures will be as much as $3.642 trillion by 2024.

Uncle Sam Picks Up Two-Thirds of the Healthcare Check