Canada rocks

Adam L. Beberg beberg@mithral.com
Tue, 8 Jan 2002 21:06:34 -0800 (PST)


"rising from 13.1 percent of the gross domestic product in 1999 to 13.2
percent in 2000"

Yet more proof Americans are getting ripped off and loving every minute of
it. I'm picturing that human battery from the Matrix, feeding the
megamedical corp robots, everyone laying in a pod while they feed on us.

Thou shalt not invent a cure, only a daily treatment. When was the last time
we _cured_ something anyway? Smallpox?

- Adam L. "Duncan" Beberg
  http://www.mithral.com/~beberg/
  beberg@mithral.com

----------------------------------

Health Care Rose 6.9 Percent in 2000
By JANELLE CARTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The cost of the nation's health care rose 6.9 percent to
$1.3 trillion in 2000 as Americans spent more on prescription drugs and
hospital care, the government says.

Health care spending averaged $4,637 per person, up from $4,377 in 1999, the
government said in a report marking what its economists called the ``end of
an era of reasonable health care cost growth throughout most of the 1990s.''

``Given what we know, we expect health care costs will continue to grow ...
in 2001,'' economist and author of the report Katharine Levit predicted.

The report, released Tuesday by the Health and Human Services (news - web
sites) Department's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said there
was a 17.3 percent increase in prescription drug spending. Hospital spending
in 2000 rose to $412 billion, a 5.1 percent increase over 1999. For the
first time in five years, nursing home expenditures increased, by 3.3
percent.

The higher spending in all categories was attributed to the increased
bargaining power of hospitals and health providers for higher insurance
payments and the aging of the post-World War II baby boomers.

When managed care plans became popular, health care providers often had to
deal with payment caps. Now, more providers are rejecting the strict
management of costs by health plans, the report said.

As the population ages, health care gradually is becoming a bigger component
of the nation's economy, rising from 13.1 percent of the gross domestic
product in 1999 to 13.2 percent in 2000, the report said.

Spending on prescription drugs increased by even more, 19.2 percent, in
1999. The rise in 2000 represents the sixth consecutive year the percentage
increase in spending on prescriptions was in double digits.

Government economists attributed the 2000 increase to the aging population
and consumer demand for newer, higher-priced drugs marketed directly to them
on television.

About 15 percent of national health spending represented out-of-pocket
expenditures, a share relatively unchanged since 1994. Prescription drugs
were the largest component of out-of-pocket spending, 20 percent, the report
said.

Those paying out-of-pocket prescription drug costs are mostly older people
without insurance coverage, the report said. Physician services accounted
for 17 percent of out-of-pocket spending, and over-the-counter drugs for 15
percent.

``These new expenditures are another indication that the burden on consumers
is growing,'' said Gail Shearer, who handles health cost issues for
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. ``It's been a
pretty steady increase over the past few decades. The big question is when
will this ever end.''

Economists said the recession will create even more out-of-pocket expenses
for health-care consumers as employers lay off workers and opt for less
expensive insurance plans.

``In this environment, employers are going to be inclined to choose less
costly options for health plans,'' said Cynthia Smith, a government health
economist. ``Those who are uninsured are going to have a difficult time
paying for health care services, and those who are insured are looking at
higher premiums.''

The report appears in the January-February issue of the journal Health
Affairs.

-

On the Net: Health Affairs: http://www.healthaffairs.org

Consumers Union: http://www.consumersunion.org