The share of national income consumed by health care expenditures has been growing faster in many developed European and Asian countries than it has been growing in the United States.
Researchers at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif., have published figures supporting that conclusion in a report on health care spending in the United States and other states belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris.
The Kaiser researchers emphasize that health care swallows a far larger share of gross domestic product in the United States than in other wealthy countries.
The United States spent 15.2% of GDP on health care in 2003, while the second-ranked country, Switzerland, spent only 11.5% of its GDP on health care, the Kaiser researchers write.
Most of the 16 other countries included in the report spent 8% to 10% of GDP on health care in 2003.
The Kaiser researchers also include health care spending share GDP figures for 1980 and 1990.
From 1980 to 1990, the United States suffered much more rapid growth in the share of GDP devoured by health care spending than any of the other countries listed.
In the United States, the amount of GDP going to health care increased by 35% between 1980 and 1990, to 11.9%.
In Canada, the listed country with the second most rapid expanding health care spending burden between 1980 and 1990, the share of GDP going to health care increased 27%, to 9%, and 5 countries reported the share of GDP going to health care was falling.