Healthcare or Health Care – What’s the Difference?

The longer a language is spoken and written, the more it changes. When two-word phrases are used frequently, they often become hyphenated or compounded.

Such is the case with health care. In Western society, health care is one of the primary concerns of day-to-day life for many people. The policies surrounding health care service delivery, and their associated costs, are a large part of the national discourse in many countries.

Some countries have different spelling conventions for these words, depending on how they are used in a sentence. Continue reading to learn about these spelling differences.

What is the Difference Between Healthcare and Health Care?

In this post, I will compare health care vs. healthcare. I will use each variation in at least one example sentence, so you can see it in its proper context. Plus, I will give you a mnemonic device that will help you choose either healthcare or health care in your own writing.

Is healthcare one word or two? Let’s find out.

When to Use Health Care

Healthcare versus health care meaningWhat does health care mean? Health care (two words) is a noun. It refers to maintenance of one’s wellbeing, either by medical means or otherwise.

Here are some examples,

  • The national debate about health care has reached a fever pitch.
  • Health care costs are rising at a rate that is unsustainable for most Americans.
  • “Health care is for the unhealthy,” said Greg, who was not known for his wisdom.
  • “The positive this time is that consumers have money to spend,” Lundgren said, pointing to robust sales of cars, home improvement and health care. –New York Post

Definition of health care definition and definition of Healthcare definitionWhen this term is used as an adjective, it is hyphenated to form health-care, like in the below examples,

  • Health-care costs are rising at a rate that is unsustainable for most Americans.
  • Sylvia quit her job because she found an employer who offered a better health-care plan.
  • U.S. health-care spending grew 4.8 percent last year, as the country has emerged from a period of historically low health spending growth, according to new federal estimates. –The Washington Post

For anyone using AP Style, The AP Stylebook requires health care to be spelled as such: health care.

When to Use Healthcare

What does healthcare mean? Healthcare (one word) is a variant of the same term. It is not yet considered standard, but it is being used more and more often as time progresses.

See the below charts,

is healthcare one word or two

This next graph isolates the use of healthcare as an adjective, where it is actually surpasses health-care in popularity,

How do you spell healthcare

These data are not exhaustive, and the charts should not be considered scientifically accurate. Still, they illustrate clear usage trends, and healthcare is clearly becoming more popular with each passing year.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define health care and define HealthcareHere’s a helpful trick to remember health care vs. healthcare.

For now, healthcare is still not accepted as standard in American English, despite its increasing popularity. At least in formal writing, you will want to stick with health care as a noun and health-care as an adjective for American audiences. As I mentioned above, place like The AP Stylebook still require the two-word health care.

For British audiences, healthcare is an accepted adjective, but health care is still more common as a noun.

Remember that healthcare is a compound adjective in British English, much like another British English adjective, gobsmacked. This memorable term, which is spelled as a single word, should help you remember to spell healthcare as a single-word adjective in British English.


Is it healthcare or health care? Health care is an incredibly important subject, so it’s best to know how to write about it.

  • Health care is a noun that refers to maintenance of one’s wellbeing.
  • When used as an adjective, it becomes health-care in American English, and healthcare in British English.

Healthcare and gobsmacked are two British English compound adjectives that are spelled as a single word. Remembering the similarities between these two words will help you remember when to use healthcare, and as what part of speech.

English can be confusing, so don’t forget to check this site any time you have questions. If you are ever stuck choosing health care or healthcare, you can revisit this page for guidance.