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

The U.S. spent $3.8 trillion on health care last year, accounting for about 18% of the entire American economy, according to new federal data.

Why it matters: The U.S. has by far the most expensive health care system in the world, and every year it eats up a little more — from the federal government, states, employers and individuals.

By the numbers: Total national health expenditures rose by 4.6% in 2019, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

  • That’s a modest increase by the standards of health care spending, although it outpaced inflation.
  • Hospitals remain the most expensive part of the system: The U.S. spent about $1.2 trillion on hospital care last year — nearly one-third of all health spending.
  • These figures include Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance and out-of-pocket costs.

The intrigue: 2019 defied some historical norms about health care spending.

  • Typically, rising prices are the bigger driver of overall spending increases. Last year, however, prices took a backseat — increases in the use of medical services accounted for a bigger share of the rise in spending.
  • Similarly, private insurance usually sees much greater increases in per-person spending than government programs. But that, too, flipped on its head in 2019; Medicare’s per-person spending increased by 4%, compared to 3.2% for private insurance.

What’s next: These 2019 figures predate the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Early estimates suggest that the pandemic may have actually caused health care spending to fall this year — which makes sense, given that most elective procedures were completely shut down in the spring, but won’t last beyond the pandemic.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 28, 2021 - Economy & Business

2020 was the economy's worst year since 1946

Source: FRED; Billions of chained 2012 dollars; Chart: Axios Visuals

One of the last major economic report cards of the Trump era lends perspective to the historic damage caused by the pandemic, which continued to weigh on growth in the final quarter of 2020.

By the numbers: The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, a sharp slowdown in growth compared to the prior quarter. For the full year, the economy shrank by 3.5% — the first annual contraction since the financial crisis and the worst decline since 1946.

54 mins ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.

Former Georgetown tennis coach pleads guilty to accepting admissions bribes

Gordon Ernst (left) former head tennis coach at Georgetown, outside a courthouse in Boston in 2019. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A former Georgetown University head tennis coach has pleaded guilty Tuesday to bribery charges related to facilitating the admission of prospective applicants.

Why it matters: Gordon Ernst solicited and accepted bribes from William Singer, ringleader of the cheating scheme uncovered by Operation Varsity Blues, and families in exchange for helping prospective applicants get into Georgetown as student athletes, according to the Justice Department.