In comparison to other developed nations, the United States spends more of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care expenses than any other nation. In 2009, the US spent 16% of its GDP on the health care industry. This represents nearly double the amount spent by other OECD nations (an average of 8.7%) and came in 40 percent higher than the next highest nation, France, which had an 11.2% of GDP outlays on health care expenditures. If we examine these costs at an individual level the US spent $7,538 per capita (per person) on health care. This was more than double the OECD median for expenditures which was $2,995. Again the next highest nations were considerably less than the US, with Norway and Switzerland spending less than two-thirds the amount of the US ($5,003 for Norway and $4,627 for Switzerland). Of the remaining twelve OECD nations in all but two the spending per capita was less than fifty percent of that of the US. In New Zealand the amount per capita was nearly one-third of the US at $2,683 (Squires, 2011).
The comparison of expenditures by itself demonstrates an environment where growth is occurring in what should be a non-growth oriented industry. As costs for health care rise investment and growth in other areas will continue to stagnate. A troubling parallel aspect of the health care environment is that along with rising costs there is a significant lack of coverage for millions of Americans. The US not only leads OECD nations in expenses per person but also leads the other nations in terms of citizens without basic health care coverage (Blank, 2012).
The US has a divided system of health care coverage. Based on statistics from 2008, a majority of Americans, 60 percent, received health care coverage from private insurers, with 90 percent of that total being provided by employers. The remaining 10 percent paid the full amount out of premiums without assistances. Another 24 percent of Americans were covered under programs sponsored by the federal government: 13 percent under Medicare, 10 percent under Medicate, and about 1 percent via military health care programs. This left about 15 percent of the population or 46 million residents without any coverage (The Commonwealth Fund, 2010).
Further compounding the situation is the fact that the US has an overall trend of lower health outcomes when compared to other OECD nations. Studies have found that a variety of factors contribute to lower health outcomes. These factors range from income, race and insurance status. Another challenging fact is that one the fast growing segments of the US population are individuals who are highly vulnerable to illness. These individuals are faced with very difficult medical needs that are constrained by social and other factors. Of this population racial and ethnic minorities constitute the largest percentage how have multiple chronic co-morbidities and chronic illnesses. From 2000 to 2010 the...