The US health care system is the most expensive in the world on a per person basis. It's about to become even more costly thanks to drug legislation
enacted in 2003. The Bush administration told Congress that new drug legislation would cost $400 billion in 2003. After the law was passed, the White
House revised the costs upward to $534 billion. This month the administration said the figure was closer to $720 billion. Critics charge that
government contributions to health care too often benefit corporate interests, not patients.
The nation's tab for health care - already the highest per person in the industrialized world - could hit $3.6 trillion by 2014, or nearly 19% of
the entire U.S. economy, up from 15.4% now, a sobering government projection says.
Growth in health care spending will outpace economic growth through the next decade, and the government will pick up an increasing share of the
While the growth of health insurance premiums will continue to slow, the annual increases will still exceed growth in workers' disposable income.
More could become uninsured as a result.
And as spending rises, public health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid will pay an increasing proportion, hitting 49% of all spending by 2014, up
from 45.6% in 2003: “That could have important implications for the budget as a whole,” says the government.
“We all know the current system is not sustainable: Health care cannot keep rising faster than gross domestic product,” says Eugene Steuerle, a
senior fellow at the Urban Institute. But, he says, the United States has been unwilling to embrace ways to control rising spending: limits on care
and prices set by insurers or the government.
Marilyn Moon, a health economist at the American Institutes for Research, says the United States has the money to spend on health care but often uses
it on other things, such as tax cuts or expensive autos.
Health care costs for public programs are already straining many state budgets: Texas Gov. Rick Perry last week said his state and others may go
bankrupt unless they get additional federal assistance for their Medicaid programs. Many states have already made cuts to Medicaid. And they may have
to do more: President Bush's 2006 budget proposes shaving $40 billion from the federal share of Medicaid over 10 years...
Also see: Public funding of health care to hit 50%
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US federal health care spending is out of control, and putting states at risk of bankruptcy. Many factors contribute to the crisis but two main ones
First, the system is designed to support business over patients, and to protect predatory pricing for drugs and access to new medical technologies.
Second, private insurance and government policies specifically disallow early diagnosis and preventive treatments for epidemic infectious diseases.
These policies create a domino effect of new crises, including: greater opportunities for transmission; higher costs for late-stage emergency
interventions; and rapidly increasing costs to support widespread early disability and dysfunction.
It will not be easy to fix the healthcare system. In fact, the task will be impossible if all
the pertinent issues are not out in the open and
on the table.
To start: it's necessary to officially recognize the unacknowledged epidemics.
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[edit on 25-2-2005 by soficrow]