Medical worker

A medical worker puts on a mask before entering a room with a Covid-19 patient in the ICU ward at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts on January 4, 2022.

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'We Need Medicare for All Yesterday': US Healthcare Spending to Hit $7.7 Trillion

"The jaw-dropping figures," said one advocate, "highlight the need to move to Medicare for All immediately."

A federal analysis released this week projects that U.S. healthcare spending is set to rise to $7.7 trillion by 2032 and account for nearly 20% of the nation's economy, findings that single-payer advocates described as yet another indictment of the country's for-profit system and further evidence of the need for Medicare for All.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Office of the Actuary said Wednesday that it expects national healthcare expenditures to outpace U.S. economic growth over roughly the next decade, "resulting in an increase in the health spending share of GDP from 17.3% in 2022 to 19.7% in 2032."

The CMS analysis showed that U.S. healthcare spending grew at a rate of 7.5% last year, with overall expenditures reaching $4.8 trillion. CMS said it projects health spending will rise by 5.6% annually over the coming years, with overall spending reaching $7.7 trillion by 2032.

Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said in a statement Thursday that the coming surge in healthcare spending "has nothing to do with improving care and everything to do with price-gouging, monopolization, and wealth extraction by insurance corporations, Big Pharma, and for-profit hospitals."

Despite spending more on healthcare per capita than any other rich nation, the U.S. consistently ranks last among its peers in health outcomes.

Weissman on Thursday pointed to an academic analysis published earlier this week in JAMA Internal Medicine detailing the massive costs of Medicare Advantage, a federally funded program run by private insurance companies. The paper notes that private Medicare Advantage plans have overcharged the federal government to the tune of $612 billion since 2007—much of which insurers pocket as profit.

"We have known for decades that healthcare costs in the U.S. are out of control," said Weissman. "The jaw-dropping figures from CMS highlight the need to move to Medicare for All immediately so that we can finally start to make healthcare more affordable for taxpayers, while ensuring everyone in America can access the care and medicines they need."

Studies have repeatedly shown that transitioning to a Medicare for All system—as proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and more than 120 other members of Congress—would save the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars a year and countless lives compared to the status quo, which leaves tens of millions of people uninsured, underinsured, and unable to afford lifesaving treatments and medications.

Peer-reviewed research published in 2022 estimated that more than 338,000 coronavirus-related deaths could have been prevented in the U.S. if the country had a single-payer system that guaranteed coverage to all people as a right.

"Other countries spend far less per capita on healthcare while guaranteeing coverage and providing higher quality care," Weissman said Thursday. "It is time that we do the same."

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