America's system for delivering health care is a modern miracle. However, America's system of financing health care¡ªfragmented, cumbersome, inefficient, limited in accountability¡ªis a modern nightmare. Under that system, health care spending has risen from 7 percent of gross national product (GNP) in 1970 to 12 percent now. It may break 15 percent of GNP, or about $1 trillion, in the next five years.
This rate of growth is clearly unsustainable. It conjurs up images of a malignancy, relentlessly feeding off the body of its host. Our health care system is already doing harm to those it is meant to heal, as its growing cost eats away at worker paychecks, retiree savings, public budgets, entrepreneurial initiatives, and U.S. competitiveness.