There is some confusion between the words “health care” and “healthcare.” Both sound the same and look somewhat the same. However, considering their respective proper uses, these two words are different.
Health Care or Healthcare: What is the Difference? Which One is Correct?
It is easy to confuse the difference between health care and healthcare. These terms have been mixed up as well in numerous publications and discourses.
The source of this confusion comes from the fact that these two terms refer to the same thing: the system and services related to the maintenance and improvement of physical and mental health. However, there is a subtle difference in the way these terms should be used.
Note that the two-word form or the term “health care” is a noun used to refer to the system and services that are provided to individuals to maintain or improve their health. It specifically represents the things that people do: see a patient or prescribe medication.
Both the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries also agree that the two-word form is the standard in the English language when used as a noun.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary specifically defines “health care” as the “efforts made by trained and licensed professionals to maintain or restore well-being.” An example would be “the doctor provides health care” or “she receives health care.”
The single-word term “healthcare” is used as an adjective to modify a noun. For example: “He works in the healthcare industry” or “he is a healthcare professional.”
It is also worth mentioning that this single-form term is a closed compound word that represents the business or activities related to the provision of medical care and other related services.
In conclusion, while both terms are correct and both refer to the same concept, “health care” is used as a noun, and “healthcare” is used as an adjective.
Note that the two-word form is a more specific term that is similar to terms such as “patient care,” “medical care,” and “preventive care.” The single-word form is broader and it encompasses both the entire activity and the entire system.
It is also worth mentioning that the confusion about difference between the two words is akin to the confusion regarding the difference between “skin care”and “skincare” because “health care” and “healthcare” are two correct terms with different use.
This can cause confusion for some people because the terms are often used interchangeably, and it can be difficult to know which one to use in a given context.