The USA health care system is well known as by the most costly in the world. Most also agree the system provides far from the best results – perhaps great results could justify such high prices but that is not the case (though some still argue this point). Decades ago W. Edwards Deming targeted high health care costs as a deadly disease of the US economy decades ago and the problem has just gotten worse almost every single year since. In the last few year the “good news” is that while health care costs are still rising above the rate of inflation above the growth in the economy the rate of the increases were declining. From the Kaiser Foundation news release:
The 6.1 percent average increase this year was the slowest rate of premium growth since 1999, when premiums rose 5.3 percent. Since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78 percent, while wages have gone up 19 percent and inflation has gone up 17 percent. The average premium for family coverage in 2007 is $12,106, and workers on average now pay $3,281 out of their paychecks to cover their share of the cost of a family policy.
Luckily some good work is being done but so much more is needed. Seeing figures like these should make people understand this system is broken and needs to be fixed. This has been a known seriously problem for quite a long time. It is very difficult for an economy to sustain such large negative factor in economic performance. Luckily the USA has a strong enough economy to sustain a large negative impact from the health care system (it is also able to overcome: a huge amount of government and consumer borrowing – ludicrasly overpaid senior executives). This situation is very similar to a company being able to sustain waste in one part of the company. It might be possible to survive that way today, but it is something to avoid, and there is no certainty how long sustaining that waste can continue before it overwhelms the companies ability to cover for the waste elsewhere.
Related: USA Health System Now Costs 16% of GDP (2007) – the highest % ever – PBS Documentary: Improving Hospitals – Performance of the USA Health Care System to Others – Seven Leadership Leverage Points – Improving the Health Care System Articles – USA Health Care Costs reach 15.3% of GDP (2005) – Drug Prices in the USA – Change Health Care