The United States spends a higher proportion of its GDP on health care (19.3% in ref cited, but now 16%, lagging other rich countries) than any other country in the world, except for East Timor (Timor-Leste). The number of employers who offer health insurance is declining. Costs for employer-paid health insurance are rising rapidly: since 2001, premiums for family coverage have increased 78%, while wages have risen 19% and prices have risen 17%, according to a 2007 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Private insurance in the US varies greatly in its coverage; one study by the Commonwealth Fund published in Health Affairs estimated that 16 million U.S. adults were underinsured in 2003. The underinsured were significantly more likely than those with adequate insurance to forgo health care, report financial stress because of medical bills, and experience coverage gaps for such items as prescription drugs. The study found that underinsurance disproportionately affects those with lower incomes — 73% of the underinsured in the study population had annual incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level.
(my insert: THIS NEXT IS IMPORTANT, and Kiser is a private company)
However, a study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2008 found that the typical large employer Preferred provider organization (PPO) plan in 2007 was more generous than either Medicare or the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Standard Option. One indicator of the consequences of Americans' inconsistent health care coverage is a study in Health Affairs that concluded that half of personal bankruptcies involved medical bills, although other sources dispute this.
The republicans have refused to allow the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare and Medicaid recipients. They do allow the government to negotiate prices for drugs for the military and the VA.
Our aging population is also a driver in healthcare costs. The status quo before reform was also unsustainable.