I have been troubled by a dilemma for some time: When it comes to deciding whether to put a space between “health” and “care” when writing, there seem to be varied opinions. St. Thomas follows the two word standard, as do other organizations, such as 3M. Most seem to leave the question to a “follow the leader” approach.

According to the Grammarist website:

“Healthcare is on its way to becoming a one-word noun throughout the English-speaking world. The change is well underway in British publications, where healthcare already appears about three times as often as health care and is used as both a noun and an adjective. Many American and Canadian publications resist the change, meanwhile, and health care remains the more common form in North American newswriting, as well as in government and scholarly texts. In many cases—such as on health-related U.S. government websites—health care is the noun (e.g., “your health care is important”) and healthcare is the adjective (e.g., “find a healthcare professional”), but this is not consistently borne out, and both forms are widely used both ways. Many publications and websites seem to have no policy on this at all.

Short answer: Outside North America (Australia goes along with the U.K. on this one), use healthcare. In the U.S. and Canada, make it two words (unless you want to help speed the compounding process).”

So, within this loose context, it may come down to setting an organizational guide and sticking with it. At least that way, if the grammar police addendum is ever tacked on to an omnibus health care bill your firm will at least be completely right or completely wrong.

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