February 9, 2005


Healthcare Costs Take Big Bite From Economy: Report finds spending eats up 24% of recent growth, far outpacing defense and education. (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, February 9, 2005, LA Times)

Increased spending for healthcare is gobbling up about one-quarter of the growth in the economy, and health-related items now amount to more than three times the defense budget and twice what the nation devotes to education, a report released today concludes.

The study by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health comes as the Bush administration and lawmakers of both parties cautiously are trying to restart a national debate on how to rein in costs and cover an estimated 45 million Americans who lack health insurance.

President Bush has outlined a strategy under which individuals would assume control of their own costs, but the report questioned whether that would be feasible.

"The rapid rise in health spending has been absorbing nearly one-fourth of the economy's growth, a very disproportionate share," wrote co-authors Alan Sager and Deborah Socolar.

"That limits the ability of the nation's families, employers and government to pay for education, housing, new machinery … cleaning the environment, improving criminal justice, vacations or anything else they might hope to afford."

Notice noone ever writes about how the technology industry is taking a bite out of the economy? That's because it's inane; just as inane as the idea that health care isn't simply a part of the economy. It's just another consumer good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 9, 2005 9:24 AM

Well, it *is* just another consumer good in many ways, and in many ways it isn't - I cannot think of another consumer good that is considered an inalienable right. It must also be one of the most closely monitored, heavily regulated, incentive-distorted consumer goods extant(the others are alcohol & tobacco). We'd probably be better off were it treated like an ordinary consumer good, but many people don't view it that way.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at February 9, 2005 10:17 AM

Heavily nationalized and subsidized by federal expenditures, which cause the malinvestments and distortion Bruce refers to.

"President Bush has outlined a strategy under which individuals would assume control of their own costs, but the report questioned whether that would be feasible"

Precisely the third way solution you refer to on other posts that will denationalize the industry. So it is taking a "bite" out of the economy. Just not the Judd family. (not that I'm insinuating anything)

Posted by: h-man at February 9, 2005 11:51 AM

All debt is someone else's asset.

Posted by: Mikey at February 9, 2005 3:22 PM

This claim is insane. They think the government should pay for health-care rather than people----but where the heck do they think that the government gets the money?

It's like the old joke I vaguely recall where the lady snaps, "We taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for this---the government should pay for it."

Posted by: ray at February 9, 2005 9:24 PM