Healthcare Costs Add Up to 17.3 Percent of GDP in 2009

Healthcare spending in 2009 reached a record high of 17.3 percent of the nation’s GDP, representing a growth rate of 5.7 percent in a year when the general GDP shrank.  The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit and non-partisan group reports that healthcare costs for the average family have doubled over the past 10 years.Healthcare costs an average family $13,375 yearly, representing a 131 percent increase over 10 years.

The almost $2.5 trillion spent in 2009 was $134 billion more than 2008, when healthcare ate up 16.2 percent of the GDP, according to an annual report by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  “The health system is hurting, and we are seeing that in these numbers,” said Karen David, president of the Commonwealth Fund, a healthcare policy authority.  Federal and state spending on Medicaid – the primary health insurance program for low-income Americans – climbed nearly 10 percent in 2009, according to the report.  Medicate spending increased eight percent last year.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium for a company-provided family health insurance plan soared from $5,791 in 1999 to $13,375, a 131 percent increase.  Employees’ portions of those costs have also risen, from $1,543 on average 10 years ago to $3,515 in 2009.

During 2010, companies said they planned to shift more costs to workers, with 42 percent saying they would increase employees’ premiums and 39 percent said employees would pay more for doctor visits.  Another 37 percent said workers would have to pay more for prescriptions.  “When healthcare costs continue to rise so much faster than overall inflation in a bad recession, workers and employers really feel the pain.  That’s why we are having a health reform debate,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser’s president and CEO.

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