Total Cost of Care: Health care costs by the numbers

When building health plan strategies, it can pay to look deeper than network discounts to help lower the total cost of care.

The numbers

Health care spending is rising at a rate of about 6% year over year since 20151  with the top 3 health care cost drivers being high-cost claims, specialty pharmacy costs and specific diseases. Looking closer at the rise in health care spending, 25% of health care spending is wasteful2 and stems from overtreatment or delivery of low-value care.

The opportunity

Upfront costs are just the tip of the iceberg. Our Total Cost of Care approach may uncover hidden cost savings below the surface. Working with employers, UnitedHealthcare customizes a full suite of design, clinical and engagement strategies built to help them take advantage of cost-saving opportunities inside their organization and across their workforce.

The results

Savings can increase by looking beneath the surface and using a Total Cost of Care approach to evaluate all costs. See how this approach can help build a health plan with purpose.

To find out more, download our Total Cost of Care infographic.


  1. PwC Health Research Institute medical cost trends 2007-2020. June 2019. Available:
  2. William H. Shrank, MD, MSHS; Teresa L. Rogstad, MPH; Natasha Parekh, MD, MS. “Waste in the US Health Care System: Estimated Costs and Potential for Savings.” JAMA. 2019;322(15):1501-1509.