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Health spending in the U.S.

In 2001, Americans spent $1.42 trillion on health care, an unprecedented amount which, according to analysts, threatens the country’s ability to pay for medical care.

Health care spending grew at the fastest rate in over 10 years, rising 8.7% from the previous year, and economists are concerned that the United States economy may not be able to keep up with the rapidly increasing costs.

According to one report(1), health spending now makes up 14.1% of the United States' gross domestic product (GDP).

health spending

The headlines read that the costs of 'health care' are going up by over 8.7%. The problem with the headlines is that 'health care' in the United States is absolutely not 'health care', but instead, 'disease care'. The last thing the traditional medical establishment does is to encourage or produce health. If they did focus on HEALTH, they would have to worry much less about disease.

These numbers are alarming. If spending continues to rise, our economy is going to be in deep trouble.

Prescription costs make up the fastest growing component of the health care market. Spending on drugs rose 16% in 2001.

According to actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), if we continue on our current course, in the next 10 years, 17% of every dollar spent in the U.S. will go toward health care versus the 14% we currently are spending.

Although $1.42 trillion is a lot, it is 1/2 the amount which we will be spending in a few years. Again according to actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), within the next 10 years, health care spending will double to $3 trillion. Drug spending will account for 14.7% of total health expenditures by 2011, compared with 9.4% in 2001.

What these numbers mean to you, comes down to simple economics. If you (or your employer through higher health care insurance premiums) spend more of your money on worthless, expensive drug patch-up solutions, there will be less money left over to purchase the things which you really need or want in life, such as a good education for yourself and your children, a reliable car, a home or vacations.

Health spending increases fueled in part by by drug costs

A big part of the problem is our over-reliance on a system which is largely controlled by the giant pharmaceutical companies.

To get an idea of the extent of the control exerted by giant pharmaceutical companies, consider that retail pharmacies filled 3 billion prescriptions in 2000 and prescription drugs currently account for the fastest-growing section of the health care market.
This abuse is possible only because the consumer is not paying for prescription medications anymore. Nearly all of it is done by 3rd parties.
health spending and drugs 2

Does anyone out there really believe that Americans are getting 1/2 a trillion dollars of benefits from these drugs? Drug companies are smart. They have been able to change the rules so that they can now market to consumers directly. Is it any wonder why 2/3 of doctor visits result in a drug prescription?

Drug company ad campaigns are one of the main reasons why spending for prescription drugs is today the fastest growing category of health care spending.

It is also one of the major factors contributing to the fact that physicians are a major leading cause of death in the United States, because physicians often rely on drugs to patch up the symptoms of illness, rather than seeking out its cause.

The over-reliance on these drug solutions rather than seeking out and addressing the causes of the illness results in unnecessary surgeries and expensive hospital stays.

 

Prescription drug sales increased by almost 20% in 2000 in the United States

Retail prescription drug spending in the United States increased for the 5th straight year in 2000, primarily reflecting higher sales of a relatively small number of drugs (3).
health spending and drugs

As an aging population coped with high cholesterol, arthritis and diabetes, spending on prescription drugs rose almost 20% last year, to $132 billion.

Twenty or so products accounted for half the increase, which occurred not just because drugs are becoming more expensive, but because doctors are writing many more prescriptions for higher-cost drugs, according to one study(2).

The study was issued in May of 2001 by the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan group which conducts research on health care issues.

The top sellers include 'Vioxx', an arthritis drug made by Merck & Company, 'Lipitor', a cholesterol reducer sold by Pfizer, 'Celebrex', an arthritis medicine marketed by Pharmacia and Pfizer, 'Prevacid', an ulcer drug sold by Tap Pharmaceuticals, and 'Glucophage', a diabetes drug made by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The increase in sales of these 5 drugs alone accounted for 20% of the entire increase in sales of prescription drugs last year, the study said.

Antidepressants were the best-selling category of prescription drugs last year, as they were in the previous year. Retail sales of antidepressants totaled over $10 billion in 2000, up 21% from the previous year. Drugs to treat heartburn, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems were second to antidepressants in overall sales.

Comparing the number of prescriptions filled in each of the last 2 years, the study found that retail pharmacies dispensed 32% more Lipitor, 42% more Celebrex, 30% more Viagra (for impotence), 31% more Prevacid, 71% more Enbrel (for rheumatoid arthritis) and 74% more Singulair (for asthma). (3)

More aggressive marketing of prescription drugs to doctors and consumers has stimulated a major increase in sales, in part because consumers learn of new remedies and ask their doctors for prescriptions, researchers said. Better insurance coverage for drugs has also contributed to this trend, by making consumers somewhat less sensitive to the price of drugs.

19 drugs had retail sales exceeding $1 billion last year, up from 15 such drugs in 1999. Leading the list of top sellers was 'Prilosec', the anti-ulcer drug sold by AstraZeneca. Drug companies are examined in more detail here.

 

What can be done about this health spending problem?

The tragedy of it all is that we are spending all of this money on disease management focused on drugs and surgery, and our return on this investment is profoundly poor. In spite of the incredible sums of money being spent, we are not achieving the quality of health that we could be. More and more people do not have the energy they need to get through the day, while millions of others are suffering with crippling, painful diseases because they violated basic health principles over long periods of time.

You do not have to become a victim. This web site, along with many other resources which are now available, can help you to take control of your own health.

The traditional medical paradigm is fatally flawed. It does NOT work for any chronic illness. If I get hit by a car, sure, I'll want to go the Emergency Room and get the top notch treatment they will provide there, but for chronic illnesses the traditional medical paradigm just does not work. The drug/surgery model is a disaster which has greatly contributed to pharmaceutical companies' profits at the expense of the health of our country.

The truth will come out. I hope to facilitate this with this web site. You can help by telling people about this web site, so they will have PRACTICAL alternatives to the drug-based model, alternatives which work and will not accelerate the death rate.

Believe me folks, the drug companies are NOT your friends. They couldn't care less about your health. Their main concern is corporate profits. More about drug companies here.






 



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References

(1) Reuters Washington January 8, 2003

(2) National Institute for Health Care Management Research and Educational Foundation
May 11, 2001 The study was based on data from Scott-Levin Inc., a health care market research company in Newtown, Pa.

(3) NewYork Times May 8, 2001

 

 

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2002 Healing Daily