The health spendings projection article in Health Affairs contains this one historic note:
In 2009 the health share of gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to have increased 1.1 percentage points to 17.3 percent–the largest single-year increase since 1960.
A Los Angeles Times story gets to the heart of the matter:
“There is growing concern that as much as a third of the medical care delivered in this country does not help patients.
“Are we getting value for the dollar? That is the question,” said Len Nichols, health policy director at the centrist New America Foundation. “If you believe that so much medical care is unnecessary, as I do, then it is criminal that we are spending so much.”
Yet there is gridlock on federal health care reform legislation. Indeed, for all the rhetoric and fear-mongering about “government taking over health care,” the latest data shows we’re already there.
The Wall Street Journal reports and provides this graphic:
“For the first time, government programs next year will account for more than half of all U.S. health-care spending, federal actuaries predict, as the weak economy sends more people into Medicaid and slows growth of private insurance.”
One of the reasons we review news stories about “new stuff” in health care is that we believe news stories may drive up undue demand for unproven, perhaps unsafe, and costly new technologies without giving a balanced picture of the tradeoffs between harms and benefits, without evaluating the quality of evidence behind the new ideas, without looking at conflicts of interest in those promoting the new ideas, etc.
At last check, 70% of the nearly 1,000 stories we’ve reviewed fail to adequately discuss costs, or quantify harms or benefits. A kid-in-the-candy-store view of US health care.
We believe these are health care reform stories – even though they often aren’t presented that way. Just look at what we’ve written about just in the past week and you see the daily drumbeat of news stories and ads that fill our heads with visions of sugar plums in health care.
CT and MRI scans
A weeklong network TV series taking you inside the O.R. for technological wonders
Misleading drug ads
17.3% of the GDP and rising.