The Health Care Math Everyone Avoids

By JEREMIAH NORRIS
Friday, August 28, 2009

The health overhaul debate has generated plenty of heat. Yet no one has offered a solution to one vital and unavoidable dimension: the future.

In 20 years the country will have many more retired people as a proportion of the population. The population will therefore suffer from far higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

If a public option will exist for health insurance, the cost of paying these bills will be an intolerable burden on the dwindling band of economically active U.S. taxpayers.

The costs of treating chronic diseases already weigh heavily on the health sector. Nearly half of Americans suffer from one or more chronic (long-lasting) diseases. These are frequently only manageable rather than curable and come with a big price tag.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 75% of every dollar spent on health care is for treatment of patients with one or more chronic conditions, rising to 96% in public programs. These costs will increase massively the next 30 years.

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