2010 Census Shows We Spend Staggering Amount on Health Care

| by The Pediatric Insider

Ahhh, springtime. Planting tomatoes, washing pollen off your car. And: poring over the latest US Census Bureau Statistical Abstract! The 2010 edition is here, hot off the presses!

Well, not presses per se. The whole shebang is online, free, with tables and charts and scads of data about almost anything you’d care to think about. Loads of medical stuff, population statistics, but also good numbers about how many of us attend NASCAR events at least once a month, and how many pounds of spiny lobsters were consumed in 2005. Really. Browse and enjoy, you’ll learn something. Some of my favorite tidbits:

According to their statistics on leisure fun, about 25% of us went to the beach in 2008. 13% went to the zoo at least once, and 4% admitted performing karoake.

Though cats outnumber dogs (81 million versus 72 million), they still don’t come when you call them.

There were over 2 million visits to the ER for children with simple common colds in 2007.

About 7.2% of children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder, according to their parents surveyed in 2007. 7.5% of children were reported to have learning disabilities.

From 1980 to 2007, yearly consumption of milk dropped from 28 to 21 gallons. At the same time, consumption of soda increased from 34 to 49 gallons per person, per year. That accounts for some of the increase in high-fructose corn syrup, from 19 to 56 pounds a year. Also showing big gains were rates of consumption of tree nuts, chocolate, rice, and all fats and oils. Some of the food items dropping in popularity included beef, cottage cheese, and eggs in the shell (though the consumption of processed eggs more than doubled.)

The total calories available for Americans to consume each day increased from 3200 to 3900 from 1970-2006– that’s discouraging, since most adults probably need fewer than 2400-3000 calories a day to maintain their weight. The actual number of calories you should consume depends on your current height, weight, and activity level. You can use this calculator to figure it out. Less exercise means you should eat fewer calories, and about 40% of adults reported getting no regular exercise at all in 2006.

How much should all of this food cost? For a family a four, weekly food expenditures total $120-272, depending on the age of the children, how frugal you shop, and how often you eat out.

I’ve saved the most striking statistic for last: total healthcare expenditures, including private-pay and publicly paid services, per year:

  • 1960 – $28 Billion
  • 1970 – $75 Billion
  • 1980 – $254 Billion
  • 1990 – $639 Billion
  • 2000 – $1359 Billion
  • 2007 – $2241 Billion (that’s the last year exact data is available)
  • 2010 – $2624 Billion, projected
  • 2018 – $4353 Billion, projected


The figure roughly doubles every ten years, and shows no signs of slowing. To put those numbers in perspective, the 2007 figure of $2241 Billion is about equal to the total tax revenue collected by the US Treasury from all taxes in 2007 ($2568 Billion). It’s a tremendous, unimaginable amount of money, and recent health care legislation takes no significant steps to slow this rate of growth.

I’m going back to my tomatoes.