CHPIR faculty member Christopher Conover recently completed the American Health Economy Illustrated, which graphically illustrates the importance of the U.S. health industry in the general economy and its effect on individual households.

How much does the average American spend on health care? Are costs and quality of health care equal across U.S. states? Do Americans get good value for money spent on health services compared with citizens of other developed nations? Are current health spending trends sustainable through the twenty-first century?

All too often, policymakers and the public alike form judgments about health care based on myths and misconceptions. A common refrain is that U.S. health care is too expensive–both in costs to the taxpayer and costs to the consumer. But few realize that despite its lack of national health insurance, the United States leads nearly all other industrialized nations in the share of health spending paid by third parties, whether public or private. Americans, therefore, are less sensitive to health care prices than citizens of other nations.

American Health Economy Illustrated sifts through nearly a century of data to examine–and debunk–the most common myths about the U.S. health care system. With an unbiased, just-the-facts approach and hundreds of color illustrations, Christopher J. Conover assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the current system and evaluates whether current health cost trends are sustainable. Wide-ranging, accessible, and provocative, this book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of American health care.

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Christopher J. Conover is a scholar at Duke University’s Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research and an adjunct scholar at AEI. He is an editor for the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law and the U.S. Health Policy Gateway.


  • Part One: A Massive Health Sector
  • Part Two: How is Each Health Dollar Spent?
  • Part Three: Who Pays for Health Services?
  • Part Four: The Employer Role in U.S. Health Care
  • Part Five: Government Expenditures, Taxes, and Deficits
  • Part Six:  Health Services and the Family Budget
  • Part Seven: Who Produces Health Services?
  • Part Eight: Health Services and National Income
  • Part Nine: Productivity in the Health Sector
  • Part Ten: Labor Force and Employment in the Health Sector
  • Part Eleven: Personal Incomes and Health Care
  • Part Twelve: Distribution of Health Services
  • Part Thirteen: Poverty and Health
  • Part Fourteen: The Structure of the Health Sector
  • Part Fifteen: Health, Wealth and Debt
  • Part Sixteen: Economic Fluctuations and Health
  • Part Seventeen: Health Services and Quality of Life
  • Part Eighteen: U.S. Health Care in a Global Economy
  • Part Nineteen: Do Americans Get Good Value for Money in Health Care?
  • Part Twenty: Are Health Spending Trends Sustainable?
Grant Details:
  • Effective dates: December 1, 2009-July 31, 2010
  • Funder: American Enterprise Institute, National Research Initiative