Is Health Care One Word Or Two?

Although their meaning and spelling may seem to differ slightly, it’s essential that when writing about health care and healthcare you maintain consistent spelling throughout your writing.

As an aid to keeping them straight, consider that healthcare is a compound adjective similar to “gobsmacked”, with British English spelling using one word for both terms spelled as one. This should make keeping track of health care and healthcare easier!


Healthcare can be defined as the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, management and promotion of illness as well as physical and mental well-being. Healthcare providers include doctors, nurses, therapists and other medical experts.

Though healthcare has become more widely used, some organizations and publications still use “health care.” This may be due to Associated Press stylebook requirements which stipulate the two words are used together; additionally, British English tends to favor using healthcare more frequently than vice versa.

Correct spelling is determined by context and audience; using incorrect word choices could mislead readers or cause them to misunderstand your meaning. If unsure, consult a style guide or seek the advice of your editor; when writing about health-related topics remember to spell words correctly each time so as to maintain professionalism in writing while preventing embarrassing mistakes and miscommunications! Good luck!


Health care and healthcare both refer to different forms of care; however, they are frequently used interchangeably. “Healthcare” refers to efforts undertaken by trained professionals in maintaining or restoring physical, mental, and emotional well-being for an individual or community; additionally “healthcare” describes services and initiatives which ensure equal access to high-quality medical treatment for all citizens.

As both terms can be used interchangeably in formal writing, they both should be taken into consideration when selecting which version to use. When in doubt, consult your dictionary. According to the AP Stylebook “healthcare should be written as one word”, while major style guides like Chicago Manual of Style and MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers suggest two separate spellings; regardless, being consistent across your document is key!


Health care refers to the provision of medical services and treatments designed to maintain or improve physical and mental wellbeing, as well as related systems of health-related initiatives such as public health initiatives, community programs, and educational initiatives.

Writing correctly depends on both context and style guide; for instance, when used as a noun or adjective in noun form, the AP Stylebook recommends spelling out health care as one word while Chicago Manual of Style allows either healthcare or health care depending on usage.

As well, it is essential to remember that health care can be hyphenated when used as an adjective, for instance rising costs and access issues for affordable coverage. If the term is being used as noun instead, hyphenation should be avoided and it should be written as one word.


No single answer exists when it comes to answering this question; ultimately it depends on both the writer and style guide being followed. Healthcare refers to all services and industries that focus on maintaining health as well as any associated politics, finances, historical and social ramifications of these systems.

Keep this distinction in mind to avoid confusing terminology when writing or communicating about healthcare, for instance. Additionally, keeping this distinction in mind can make remembering which spelling is correct easier – healthcare can sometimes be written the same as another British English compound adjective, gobsmacked. By keeping this fact in mind it makes healthcare easy to keep to one or two words when communicating about healthcare.

Health care is an intricate topic that affects all individuals differently. Understanding the difference between health-care and healthcare will enable you to communicate more effectively with your audience. Use this guide as a quick reference if ever in doubt which term to use!

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