Healthcare costs now represent a record 16 percent of the country's economic output according to government data. The rise in healthcare costs is putting a damper on a number of industries.
National healthcare costs are growing even faster than inflation and incomes across the country, besting both by as much as 8 percent in 2004. Contributing to this is spending for physicians and hospitals rose substantially compared to recent years, though drug costs have slowed down over the past decade.
Despite the increases in spending, some Americans are still not getting the care they need, and this affects minorities (Hispanics are hit the hardest) and the poor the greatest of all. Though government data does show that overall the quality of healthcare is improving and some racial disparities are diminishing.
"We can do better," Mike Leavitt, Health and Human Services Secretary, was quoted in the Washington Post in comments at a Washington conference on existing racial and ethnic divides in health care. "Disparities and inequities still exist. Outcomes vary. Treatments are not received equally."