Health Care Expenditures in State Exceed National Rate

Article excerpt

It has often been said that the United States provides for its people the best health care system on the face of the earth. Actually, it's the most expensive.

Technological advances clearly outstrip those seen in most parts of the world. And, in a spotty way, the most sophisticated and professional medical care is accessible to a high proportion of the American people. But it is not universal and it is not inexpensive.

In Oklahoma, for example, the total of all health care spending was fractionally below $1.5 billion in 1975. Ten years later, inflationary pressures coupled with high tech developments had pushed the state's annual expenditures to $3.7 billion - a staggering increase of 253 percent, exceeding even the national average.

According to data collected by the Oklahoma Health Planning Commission, health care expenditures here were rising at an average annual rate of 25.3 percent, slightly more than 3 percent above the national average.

Despite the high rate of spending, the state is allocating no more of its overall resources to health care than the country itself is spending. In 1985 calculations, the nation was spending 10.7 percent of gross national product (GNP) for health care; for the state, the comparable figure was 10.5 percent, which does not on its face seem to be statistically significant.

What the commission's staff sees, however, is that health care costs are increasing faster than the anticipated gross state product (GSP).

This brings up the big question:

What's the outlook? Are Oklahomans destined to spend more and more of their total product of goods and services on health care?

At a glance, it looks that way.

Using national projections from the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), the commission staff forecasts a state expenditure of $8.2 billion in 1990. It adds up to $2,331 per man, woman and child.

A report prepared last year acknowledges that it isn't possible to say with assurance just what the spending course will be. …