Health care or healthcare: Do you care?

Let’s start the debate.

Way back in dinosaur times, when we PR pros were writing with sticks in the dirt, health care was two words. In fact, both as a registered nurse and a public relations person, I never saw health care written as healthcare until recently. However, between the 1970s and 2013, the two words became one…or did it?

This publication, the AP, Wikipedia (mentions it as a second usage) and others still use two words. So, how did I get hoodwinked into making it one in the past few years?

According to, healthcare is well on its way to becoming one word—not two—and is being used that way in British publications. U.S. government publications still use health care, as do many institutions. However, used “underway” incorrectly when explaining about health care, so who can you trust? This happens to be a pet peeve of mine. Under way is two words. It should only be used as one word when using it as a nautical term, such as, “the ship is underway.”

This brings up back to health care. Since one of my favorite publications—this one—chooses to use health care as two words following AP’s style, I vow to never make it one word again.

What do you think?

Susan Tellem, APR, RN, BSN, is a partner with Grody Tellem PR, Inc. and has experienced 30 years of grammar headaches. Follow her on Twitter @susantellem and sign up for the blog at

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