Healthcare or health care? When you talk about the system of medical services, healthcare typically refers to the entire industry, while health care refers to what’s offered by professionals. But, until recent years, healthcare was used as a broad term in the UK for both intents.
Understanding the nuances between healthcare and health care isn’t just healthful for your vocabulary; it’s a diagnostic check for your English grammar. Use the wrong one in the wrong context, and you could go from sounding professional to amateur faster than you can say stethoscope.
Keep reading, and I’ll not only help you understand when and where to use each term but also offer sentence examples to clarify.
Healthcare or Health Care?
Healthcare and health care are correct spellings with different meanings. The definition of healthcare is a system that offers medical care. Health care is the effort made by trained professionals.
Health Care or Healthcare – What’s the Difference?
Aside from the space between the two words, health care and healthcare have different meanings.
Healthcare is a closed compound word that means the business, institution, or activity offering medical services. It can also mean the set of medical services that an organization or country provides.
In general, healthcare is broader since it encompasses both activity and system. However, it does not involve the individuals or groups that deliver medical care.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of health care is efforts made by trained and licensed professionals to maintain or restore well-being. 3M also states that it may refer to individuals or groups delivering care, although this definition is not common.
The two-worded term does not include the entire system, institution, or industry. So, you can’t say the health care institution aims to provide maximum care for patients.
Another difference between the two is that health care is more commonly used in US and Canada, while healthcare is for the UK. American and Canadian English use health care to refer to the system or organization as a misunderstanding or protest.
Should Health Care Be Spelled as Two Words?
Only use health care when referring to the set of actions by a person to maintain or improve a patient’s health. In this context, health care is similar to phrases like patient care, medical care, and preventative care–for example:
- Health care in practices will improve the lives of citizens.
Health care is not an adjective. Therefore, health care industry is wrong.
I don’t recommend using the two-word form health care as an American English spelling of healthcare because this idea is already outdated. But if you wish to do so, observe consistency in health care throughout your writing.
Is Healthcare a Noun or Adjective?
Now that you know the difference between health care vs. healthcare, you might wonder if healthcare is a noun or adjective. The word is both a noun and an adjective.
Examples of healthcare as a noun:
- My mom works in healthcare.
- Modern healthcare is a mix of medical and business professionals.
Examples of healthcare as an adjective:
- The healthcare IT industry has been a success in this generation.
- The candidate promises a healthcare reform that will address several systemic failures.
Does Healthcare Have a Hyphen?
Aside from health care and healthcare, an additional language question is whether to add a hyphen or not. You should only hyphenate the word if you’re following the MLA style and using the word as an adjective–for example:
- Health-care costs.
- Health-care industry.
- Health-care reform.
However, more publishers prefer the adjective healthcare as one word.
Is Healthcare Capitalized?
Healthcare and health care are common nouns, so you shouldn’t capitalize them. But if the word is part of a proper noun, such as the name of a hospital, capitalize the word. Here are some examples where you should capitalize healthcare.
- Insular Health Care, Inc.
- Home Health Care
- US Healthcare Inc.
Health Care in a Sentence
The health care law invests in training and supporting thousands of new primary care doctors and nurses by providing bonus payments, scholarships, and loan repayment. [Healthcare.gov]
[T]hey demonstrate that health care reform is still an unpredictable work in progress. [Fortune]
Circumcision can also be a matter of family tradition, personal hygiene, or preventive health care. [Mayo Clinic website]
You want to be a patient of the health care system, not a victim of it. [Globe and Mail]
The health care home model contributes to these goals by improving health care delivery at the patient level through redesigning and expanding the scope of primary health care services. [American Journal of Public Health1]
- The delivery of health care requires appropriate skills to avoid medical malprocess.
- The COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the evolution of health care.
Healthcare in a Sentence
- My daughter is studying in the field of healthcare.
- I just graduated with a degree in healthcare.
Healthcare as a Noun
Make far greater use of society in healthcare. [Guardian]
NHS continuing healthcare is a package of continuing care provided outside hospital, arranged and funded solely by the NHS, for people with ongoing healthcare needs. [UK NHS website]
- Healthcare is a huge sector that requires more support this century.
- The government has a huge role to play in healthcare.
- The organization’s primary concern is to provide refugees with healthcare.
- I heard she now works in healthcare.
- The inaccessibility of healthcare to the masses has several social implications.
Healthcare as an Adjective
The most important development in state intervention in healthcare provision in the pre-NHS period was the enactment of public health legislation. [Social Policy and Welfare]
It could adopt the healthcare reforms he was demanding before the election. [Telegraph]
The setting up of public-private healthcare partnerships to take over provision of healthcare to the expatriate population is a near-term target. [Financial Times]
- The director of the healthcare center will ensure better facilitation of services next year.
- Psychiatric nurses are new healthcare workers.
- The president is cutting down on healthcare services.
- The employee handbook includes all the healthcare coverage in detail.
- Healthcare changes will be observed once the vaccine is made available
- Qualified applicants have healthcare experience.
Final Words on Healthcare Versus Health Care
Some might agree that health care is the American spelling, while healthcare is more common in the UK and Canada. But there’s not enough evidence to support this view.
Use health care or healthcare as a noun that refers to the system. And use healthcare or health-care as an adjective. And if you’re still confused, why not just use healthcare in all contexts? For more simplified breakdowns of commonly confused spellings, see our guide to room mate vs roommate vs room-mate.