This is the first in a series of occasional short pieces and data about health care issues.
First, according to the NYT on Sept. 6, cumulative growth in insurance premiums has gone up 120 percent between 1999 and 2008. Premiums have more than doubled in less than 10 years. I can't think of anything else, beyond maybe gas prices, that has doubled in the last 10 years. Maybe I'm just not thinking hard enough ...
Average monthly worker premium contributions have gone from $130 in 1999 to $280 in 2008. Very interesting point here. While this has been spread out over 10 years, if you think of this as disposable income, you can see where this kind of transfer of wealth from one sector to the other could cause economic problems. That's $1,800 more pulled out of the general economy per year and put into the health care economy. We all know where a lot of that money has gone.
The percentage of health care spending, as part of the GDP, has risen from 13.7 percent to 20.3 percent, between 1999 and 2008. So, when conservatives say that Obama is trying to take over 1/7 of the nation's economy, they are close at least in the numbers department. It is actually 1/5 of the economy.
However, the larger point is that the numbers show us all exactly where the problem is. The problem is insurance, not health care. Any "reform" bill should put some cost controls on insurance, not care itself. Any bill that forces people to enroll in an insurance program, without any cost controls in place, is simply welfare for health insurance companies.