Health Expenditures Consume Ever-Growing Share of
October 19, 2001
A recent report from the Congressional Research Service
(CRS) explains that health care expenditures have grown
considerably over the past 40 years: from $23.4 billion
in 1960 to $1.06 trillion in 1999. These figures do
not include expenditures for administrative costs, research,
and public health activities.
The report, "Health Care Spending: Past Trends
and Projections," notes that "health care
spending as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP)
continues to rise, indicating that health care is consuming
an increasing portion of the nation's economic resources."
In 1960 health care spending accounted for 4 percent
of GDP. In 1999 it grew to 11 percent. "Much of
this growth occurred between 1960 and 1991," reports
How Much Should Americans and the Federal Government
Spend on Health Care?
Should citizens be concerned about these trends? From
a free-market perspective, citizens ought to be free
to spend their own money on as much health care as they
desire. The federal government should not restrict individuals'
freedom to purchase privately the types and amount of
health care services and insurance of their choice.
However, when it comes to federal spending on health
care, that is another issue.
Continued growth in federal spending on health care
will most definitely crowd out funding for defense and
national security priorities. The charts below (created
by the Institute for Health Freedom) show trends in
federal spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security
compared to defense.
This information is presented to foster constructive
debate about the appropriate level of government spending
on health care versus other important needs, such as
defense, in a free society.
This article was originally published in the September/October
2001 issue of Health