If one were to use medical terms to describe the condition of our nation’s health-care system, "terminally ill" would be the likely label. A brief examination of the following health-care issues reveals why:
Medicare, the federal health care program for the nation’s elderly, is facing an impending bankruptcy. According to the current projections of the program’s Trustees, Medicare will be insolvent by 2001 or sooner, unless corrective action is taken.
Medicaid, the federal need-based health care program, constitutes the most rapidly growing component of the federal budget. It is one of the leading culprits of ballooning state budgets.
Health-care related payroll taxes for Medicare and employer-provided health insurance continue to pinch the budgets of both employees and employers. Meanwhile, the self-employed and those currently without coverage find health-care insurance increasingly difficult to afford.
Medical malpractice awards during the past fifteen years have driven up the cost of health care — a direct result is the increased practice of defensive medicine. They have also caused an alarming number of health-care providers, particularly obstetricians, to discontinue their practices.
In 1995 national health expenditures were $1.1 trillion, constituting 15.6 of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). This represents a jump in spending of $750 billion since 1980 when expenditures amounted to less than 10 percent of GDP. Clearly the nation cannot continue to sustain this level of spending on health care. The health care system needs to be resurrected, but in what form?