GETTYSBURG, Pa. (October 12, 2020) – In fiscal year 2018, U.S. spending on non-health social services totaled $316.4 billion. In 2018, the U.S. spent more than $3.6 trillion on health care, and health care spending has increased every year since 2009 by 4.1% on average. Social service spending, on the other hand, fluctuated between 2009 and 2018, increasing or decreasing depending on the year. Since 2009, the total spending on social services had increased by 16.5%; however, after adjusting for inflation the total spending on social services had actually decreased. In fact, social service spending in the United States has declined in real terms over the past decade. Spending on supports like income, nutrition, and housing assistance, adjusted for inflation, dropped 11% per capita, from $885 per person in 2009 to $786 in 2018. These were findings from The Social Services Market: Over $316.4 Billion In Spending In 2018, an OPEN MINDS Market Intelligence Report.

OPEN MINDS Chief Executive Officer Monica E. Oss explained in her analysis (see K, So Where Does That Leave Us?) that “Adjusted for inflation, our country is spending less per person on basic support services that help at-risk Americans avoid homelessness and starvation.” It’s notable that this precipitous drop in government spending happened before the COVID-19 global pandemic that triggered U.S. unemployment rates nearing 15%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pandemic has illustrated the issues with our public health system and our social support services. Our analysis found that per capita spending on social services, on an inflation-adjusted basis, has declined over the past decade. The 12.5 million unemployed citizens will create additional pressure on the available funding and services for housing, nutrition assistance, and income support.

The report includes additional information on trends in social service treatment spending, specifically expenditures and enrollment among income assistance, nutrition assistance, and housing assistance programs. Additionally, the report discusses U.S. social service spending by payer and by care setting.
The report, The Social Services Market: Over $316.4 Billion In Spending In 2018, is available at no charge to Premium and Elite members of The OPEN MINDS Circle and can be purchased in the OPEN MINDS shop for $495.

For questions and media inquiries, please contact Michelle Coughlin-Malak, Vice President, Market Intelligence, OPEN MINDS at 717-334-1329 or


OPEN MINDS is an award-winning information source, executive education provider, and business solutions firm specializing in the domains of health and human services serving consumers with chronic conditions and complex support needs. For thirty years, we’ve been pioneers for change – helping organizations implement the transformational business practices they need to succeed in an evolving market with new reimbursement, competition, policies, and regulations.

OPEN MINDS is powered by a national team of experienced executives and subject matter experts with specific expertise and experience in nine key market areas – mental health, addictions, chronic conditions, autism and intellectual/developmental disabilities, long-term care, children’s services, social services, juvenile justice, and corrections health care. Our mission is to improve the quality of care for consumers with complex support needs by improving the effectiveness of those serving them – provider organizations, payer and insurance organizations, government agencies, pharmaceutical organizations, and technology firms. Learn more at

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