Five decades of U.S. health spending data now available with a click

Anyone with questions about U.S. health spending trends over the last 50 years can look for answers from a new interactive application, the Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation Health System Tracker.

The Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation teamed up to create the Health System Tracker, which monitors the U.S. health care system’s performance in the areas of quality and cost. The Health Spending Explorer, which is part of the Tracker, is an application that allows users access to data showing five decades  of U.S. health spending by federal and local governments, private insurers, and individuals. The data also includes 15 areas of spending, including, hospitals, physician and clinic care, and prescription drugs. The Health Spending Explorer allows users to compile data and create charts that can be shared on websites and via email, Twitter, and Facebook.

The application provides a wide variety of statistics and promises the most up-to-date health care spending data, which is drawn from the National Health Expenditure Accounts. A user can access not only current health data, but also historical spending data and compare the two with a built-in tool that can adjust the figures for inflation. All of the information can then be compiled into custom charts for a variety of uses.

For example, if a user wanted to compare U.S. health care spending in 2013 with 1960 from all sources, the following chart could be created:

That same spending data could then be broken down by service type:

The application also provides ready-made charts for reference and includes a video tutorial that outlines the steps to access the health data and create customized charts.