Health Care by the Numbers

In March 2013, Time magazine published a very revealing and unsettling special report about health care in America titled: “Bitter Pill: How outrageous pricing and egregious profits are destroying our health care.” Steven Brill, the report’s author, summarizes the complex health care problem this way: “To understand why U.S. health care spending is out of control, you just have to follow the money. [Time’s investigation] reveals that hospitals — and the executives who run them — are gaming the system to maximize revenue and sticking patients with bills that have little relationship to the care that’s provided. The free market in American medicine is a myth, with or without Obamacare.” It certainly doesn’t help that the very people who could solve the problem — Congress — are actually in bed with the medical industry. As Brill notes, for every member of Congress, there are at least 7 lobbyists working for the health care industry — spending a jaw-dropping $5.36 billion per year (compared to the defense industry that spends $1.5 billion per year). A review of health care by the numbers in America will leave you reaching for a bottle of aspirin.

Amount of money spent on healthcare each week: $60 billion
Cost of health care in U.S. in 2013: $2.8 trillion
Percentage of Americans who have skipped a recommended medical test or treatment due to cost: 25%
Percentage of Americans, working in smaller companies, who had trouble paying medical bills: 45%
Percentage of patients who missed doses of medication due to insurance difficulties: 23%
Average annual health care spending per person in U.S.: $8,100
Percentage of insured Americans who experienced medically-related bankruptcy: 69%
Cost of appendectomy in Canada: $5,606
Cost of appendectomy in U.S.: $13,003
Operating profit of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian (PMCP): $769 million
Compensation for CEO of PMCP: $5.9 million
Compensation for CEO of American Red Cross: $561,210

For further reading: Time magazine, Why Medical Bills are Killing Us, March 4, 2013
Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Health Care Reform by Paul Starr, Yale University Press (2013)

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