Private gain and public pain: Financing American health care

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

Winter 2008


Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics


Volume 36, Issue 4

Inclusive Pages



Financing, Government--economics; Health Care Reform--economics; Health Expenditures--classification; Medically Uninsured--statistics & numerical data; State Health Reform


Health care spending comprises about 16% of the total United States gross domestic product and continues to rise. This article examines patterns of health care spending and the factors underlying their proportional growth. We examine the "usual suspects" most frequently cited as drivers of health care costs and explain why these may not be as important as they seem. We suggest that the drive for technological advancement, coupled with the entrepreneurial nature of the health care industry, has produced inherently inequitable and unsustainable health care expenditure and growth patterns. Successful health reform will need to address these factors and their consequences

Peer Reviewed