The U.S. political system arguably is not particularly effective at addressing gradual long-term problems such as rising health care costs and aging. But the problems caused by rising health care costs are not just long-term ones. In fact, some of them are already having significant effects on various aspects of our society. Health care costs are already reducing workers’ take-home pay to a degree that is both under-appreciated and at least partially unnecessary, consuming roughly a quarter of the federal budget, and putting substantial pressure on state budgets (mostly through the Medicaid program), thereby constraining funding for other governmental priorities. Identifying and addressing inefficiencies in the nation’s health care system can yield significant benefits, even in the short term, and focusing attention on those effects that are already occurring may be helpful in developing the consensus necessary to make the needed changes.
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