Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Spinning away

Here's the abstract from a new article in Health Affairs, based on HRSA statistics. They make it sound like good news.


Health Spending Growth Slows In 2003

Cynthia Smith, Cathy Cowan, Art Sensenig, Aaron Catlin and the Health Accounts Team The pace of health spending growth slowed in 2003 for the first time in seven years, driven in part by a slowdown in public spending growth. U.S. health care spending rose 7.7 percent in 2003, much slower than the 9.3 percent growth in 2002. Financial constraints on the Medicaid program and the expiration of supplemental funding provisions for Medicare services drove the deceleration. U.S. health spending accounted for 15.3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product in 2003, an increase of 0.4 percentage points from 2002.

This "slow-down," which was achieved largely by dropping people from the Medicaid roles, still leaves spending on medical services at a new, all-time record as a percentage of GDP (and in absolute terms as well, of course).

Never forget -- this is on the order of twice as much as other wealthy countries spend. And for all the talk of how our health care is the "best in the world," we are the only wealthy country that leaves people uninsured, and the important health status indicators show that the U.S. is close to the bottom among the wealthy countries.

Social Security does not constitute an "imminent crisis," but this does. Does it ever.

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