January 17, 2013
Eric Oestmann, PhD, PT
Health Care Spending
In 2010, health care spending, or health expenditures in the United States neared $2.6 trillion. That is more than ten times the $256 billion that was spent in 1980. In recent years, the growth rate of spending on health care has decreased in relation to the growth rate during the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, it is still predicted to increase more rapidly than the national income over the foreseeable future.
Addressing this pressing concern has been, and continues to be a major policy priority. Mainly because the United States has been experiencing a significant recession for much of the past decade. This economic recession has resulted in higher unemployment rates and lower income rates for much of the American population. These tough economic conditions have helped to focus even more attention on health spending and affordability in this country.
From 2012 to 2012, employer-sponsored health coverage for family premiums has increased by 97 percent. This has been the cause of increasing financial burdens on both employers and employees. In the public sector, Medicare covers the elderly and people with disabilities, and Medicaid provides coverage to low-income families. Enrollment for these programs has grown tremendously in both Medicare, with the aging of the baby boomers, and in Medicaid due to the recession. This means that the total amount of government spending has increased considerably, which as caused a significant strain on federal and state budgets. In total, health spending accounted for 17.9% of the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2010.
While there is general agreement that the drastic increase in health care costs must be somehow controlled, there is much disagreement over the specific factors that are causing this rise. Some of...