Healthcare spending in the United States is $3 trillion a year, straining the budgets of families, businesses and taxpayers alike. Learn what makes healthcare so expensive, why costs continue to rise and what we can do about it.

The price of medical care is the single biggest factor behind U.S. healthcare costs, accounting for 90% of spending. These expenditures reflect the cost of caring for those with chronic or long-term medical conditions, an aging population and the increased cost of new medicines, procedures and technologies.

Also, healthcare reform law has expanded access to insurance to millions of Americans. We’ve transitioned to a healthcare system in which everyone can obtain health insurance regardless of age or health status, and many individuals who are newly insured need ongoing medical attention.

We can all play a part in helping to make America healthierand curbing healthcare costs. Our healthcare system must focus more on quality care for patients that helps them get healthy faster and stay healthy longer. Meanwhile, everyone can lower their risk of developing many costly chronic diseases by adopting healthier lifestyles.

Where Does Your Healthcare Dollar Go?

Breakdown of healthcare spending.

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^ Includes prescription drugs administered in a clinical setting.
* Includes both governmental administrative costs for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and the administrative costs of private insurance.

Sources: National Health Expenditure Data, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); and IMS Institute.

Three Key Factors Driving U.S. Healthcare Costs

Specialty Drugs

Specialty drugs account for one-third of prescription drug spending.

Pie chart shows how specialty drugs account for one third of prescription drug spending

Growth in U.S. Specialty Drug Spending

A key factor pushing up healthcare costs is the price of new specialty drugs, which are high-cost prescription medicines used to treat chronic and complex health conditions.

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Chronic Diseases

Treating chronic diseases accounts for 86 percent of U.S. healthcare costs.

Dollar sign icon showing that chronic conditions drive 86% of U.S. healthcare costs.

The High Cost of Treating Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases and conditions—such as arthritis, obesity, cancer and heart disease—are among the most common, costly and often preventable of all health problems.

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Lifestyle

Americans' unhealthy lifestyle choices are linked to costly chronic conditions.

No smoking symbol.

How We Live Affects Healthcare Costs

Avoiding unhealthy behaviors helps prevent chronic conditions, easing the cost burden on the healthcare system.

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The Health of America Report

Providing key insights and trends that support quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Price jumps fuel specialty drug spending

Cost increases for specialty drugs are outpacing traditional pharmaceuticals. A BCBS study found per member spending on specialty drugs increased 26 percent from 2013 to 2014.

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Retail clinic visits up, but not for all

Retail clinics are increasingly popular among employer-insured consumers seeking low-cost, convenient care. But use by individually insured Americans lags behind.

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Shift to outpatient care cuts patient costs

New technologies enable patients to save money by electing to have complex procedures performed in an outpatient setting.

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Achieving High-Quality Healthcare

We’ve identified four strategies that are critical to improving the U.S. healthcare system and ensuring that every patient receives high-quality healthcare.

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The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.