Private Gain and Public Pain: Financing American Health Care

Authors

  • Bruce Siegel,

    1. Research Professor of Health Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
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  • Holly Mead,

    1. Assistant Research Professor of Health Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
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  • Robert Burke

    1. Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Services Management and Leadership at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
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Abstract

Health care spending comprises about 16% of the total United States gross domestic product and continues to rise. This article examines patterns of health care spending and the factors underlying their proportional growth. We examine the “usual suspects” most frequently cited as drivers of health care costs and explain why these may not be as important as they seem. We suggest that the drive for technological advancement, coupled with the entrepreneurial nature of the health care industry, has produced inherently inequitable and unsustainable health care expenditure and growth patterns. Successful health reform will need to address these factors and their consequences.

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