17% of the economy

Republicans seem to hammer away at the idea of health care reform by talking about how Congress shouldn’t change things drastically for something that covers 17% of the economy, or sometimes referred to as one sixth of the economy.

Here is the thing about that, it is the inaction that has made that such a large percentage of our GDP.  In fact Forbes (not exactly a bastion of liberal journalism) reports this,

According to the OECD, the U.S. spends 5% of GDP more on health than France, the nation with the second highest level of health spending among the 30 wealthy countries in the organization. The average for all OECD countries is 8.9% of GDP.

We spend $7,290 per person on average versus $2,964 among all OECD countries. Norway, the nation with the second most expensive health system on a per capita basis, spends $4,763. (Currency conversions based on purchasing power parity.)

If we hadn’t gone down this road that leads us to a  crazy system of health insurance (insurance not care), this attempt at reform would be impacting a smaller portion of our GDP.  But the Republicans didn’t try to fix it, in fact they are noted for blocking it for the past 30 years, letting it become a larger and larger portion of our GDP.  The Kaiser Family Foundation has this graph (exhibit 5)looking at the percent of GDP for many industrial nations in 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2003.

So when they try to scare you, and that is really all they do these days, ignore the fact that it is such a large part of GDP, it is such a big part of GDP because of their inaction, and it is not a reason for continued inaction.



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