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Health Care Spending Hits 15 Percent of GDP

The good news is health care spending slowed in 2003 a tad, increasing just 7.7 percent versus 9.3 percent in 2002, according to a recent government report. But that's not a whole lot to celebrate about, considering health care expenditures -- $1.7 TRILLION -- now account for more than 15 percent of this nation's gross domestic product (GDP).

The same "disconnect" regarding health care statistics affects prescription drug spending too. That grew about 11 percent in 2003, certainly an improvement from a nealry 15 percent climb the previous year. However, retail sales of prescription drugs totalled some $180 BILLION, again soaring upward at a faster clip than the country's overall health care tab.

America also devotes a much larger share of its economic output to health care than other industrial countries do. Among the 30 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the countries with the next largest shares, Switzerland and Germany, spend less than 12 percent of their GDP on health care.

Other interesting factoids:

  • Consumer purchases from Canadian pharmacies, estimated at $1.1 billion in 2003, were not counted in domestic health spending.
  • American sales of generic drugs grew at twice the rate of brand-name drug sales in 2003.
  • The average American spent $5,670 for health care in 2003, up $353 from 2002.

This slower growth, while encouraging, still very much frustrates me. I find it to be a continuing reflection of the sad excuse for a health care paradigm in this country, horribly "addicted" to drugs and fast-acting "cures" for conditions that mask true problems, and why more people by the day are beginning to see the common sense behind my vision to reform the existing health care paradigm.

New York Times January 11, 2005

Health Affairs Vol. 24, Issue 1, 185-194

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