Obama’s health-care challenge

  • Among industrialized nations, the United States spends well over twice the per capita average on health care.
  • health costs are expected to reach 20 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product by 2015.
  • Despite high spending, Americans do not live as long as citizens of a number of other comparable countries, including Australia.
  • There exist severe disparities in access to health care based on insurance status, income, race, and ethnicity.
  • Government programs for the elderly, disabled, children, veterans and the poor account for more than 45 per cent of health-care expenditures, making the government the largest insurer in a nation in which there is substantial public opposition to national health insurance.
  • Over a third of the population is uninsured, unstably insured, or underinsured, and at any time some 16 per cent of the population, or 47 million people, are without health insurance.
  • Health insurance costs are rising faster than wages or inflation, and “medical causes” are cited by about half of those filing for bankruptcy.
  • Health insurance expenses are the fastest growing cost component for employers, which spend 11.3 per cent of payroll on employees’ health care.
  • The three major motor car manufacturers–General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler–have medical obligations of $114 billion; in 2005, GM estimated that it spent more than $1,500 in employee medical expenses for each new car sold.


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