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Expand chart
Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. spent almost $3.5 trillion on hospitals, doctors, prescription drugs, medical devices and other health care services and items in 2017, according to new federal data.

The bottom line: That total was 3.9% higher than the country's health care tab from 2016 — lower than originally expected. But it still amounts to a pricey system with poor outcomes that has frustrated patients and eaten more of everyone's paychecks.

The big picture: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services revised estimates from February and said the amount Americans spent on health care in 2017 now grew more slowly than the economy at large.

  • That's partially because fewer people went to the hospital, saw the doctor, ordered tests and bought drugs. But that decline in utilization was offset by rising prices.

By the numbers:

  • One-third of the country's spending came from private health insurance premiums that people had through their jobs or bought on their own. Another 10% came from out-of-pocket spending like copays and deductibles.
  • The amount spent in hospitals ($1.14 trillion) and doctors' offices ($920 billion) each increased above 4% annually, and together represented 59% of the country's health care spending.
  • Prescription drugs bought at a pharmacy or other retail locations were about 10% of total spending, barely more than 2016 thanks to people using more generics and fewer high-priced drugs. Total drug spending is closer to 15% when factoring in pharmaceuticals administered in hospitals or clinics.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
15 mins ago - Health

The shifting definition of fully vaccinated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The definition of what it means to be "fully vaccinated" is evolving even as the CDC has remained careful not to officially change it.

Why it matters: CDC officials have been balancing the job of convincing Americans who've already gotten two doses of the importance of boosters with getting many Americans who still need their first doses to get their shots at all.

Mike Allen, author of AM
25 mins ago - Economy & Business

Small businesses see hiring as No. 1 worry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Almost every small business owner in a Goldman Sachs survey is having trouble hiring — and two-thirds think the federal government has done too little to ease their hiring, supply-chain and inflation worries.

Why it matters: The Goldman Sachs research gives a vivid window into the continuing headwinds and hardship for entrepreneurs.

29 mins ago - World

NATO sends ships, fighter jets to eastern Europe over Russia threat

Service members of Russia's Eastern Military District units attend a welcoming ceremony as they arrive at unfamiliar training ranges in Belarus. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry/TASS via Getty Images

NATO said Monday it's sending more ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe due to Russia's buildup of troops near Ukraine.

Driving the news: "NATO Allies are putting forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to NATO deployments in eastern Europe, reinforcing Allied deterrence and defense as Russia continues its military build-up in and around Ukraine," per a NATO statement.

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