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Health care: What we each can do about it

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By Robert Gibson

Health and medical costs continue to rise faster than any other major segment of the U.S. economy. The cause is not insurance companies, drug companies, health-care providers, the uninsured or malpractice lawyers. It is us, you and I, and a broken system.Nationally, health care costs about $2 trillion annually or more than 15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), our total output of goods and services. That’s an average of nearly $7,000 for each American.Health care is a larger segment of our economy than food, clothing or shelter. Prior to WWII, health care costs ran around 3 percent of GDP. As recently as 1965, they were less than 5 percent. They are expected to be 20-25 percent of GDP in 10-20 years when the post-war baby boom hits its peak years for consuming health-care products and services.We all pay the national health-care bill many ways: insurance premiums (paid directly or on our behalf by employers), taxes, out-of-pocket, and in the prices we pay for goods and services.Other developed countries spend typically half what we do on health care. It is frequently asserted that various forms of national health insurance can be credited with lower costs in other countries and that some form of it would lower costs here.


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