Global Snapshots - United States: vast resources for the rich
- By: Dave Barr
Illness is big business in the United States. In 2000, the world's largest economy spent 13% of its gross domestic product on health care.1 It has a workforce of 650 000 doctors.2 The resources are vast, but how are they administered, and do they really meet the health needs of the United States' 280 million people?
The US system is extremely diverse and decentralised, and traditionally, funding and delivery are separately administered.1
There is a mixture of both private and public funding. Nearly two thirds of people have their health care funded through private insurance schemes through their workplace.1 A much smaller number purchase private health insurance individually.
The federal and state governments commit a large amount of public money to health care through schemes designed to cover those who are not protected by private insurance. The largest of these schemes are Medicare, which finances health care for virtually all