As medical bills spiral upward, the refrain is ever more common: Health care is costing an arm and a leg.
But how much does that broken arm or that shattered leg cost?
Greg Davis, whose son Jonathan fractured his right leg during football practice, confesses to having little interest in finding out.
"Until it hits my pocket, I'm really not concerned about it," said Davis, an MRI supervisor at UC Davis Medical Center. "As far as I'm concerned, my son's broken leg is costing $65: the $50 emergency room co-pay and the $15 for an office visit.
"Thank God for insurance," he added.
Partly motivated by an effort to contain costs, policymakers are considering a comprehensive overhaul of the country's health care system. But most Americans with quality insurance coverage may have little clue, or concern, about what goes into health care spending, which is expected to grow to $2.5 trillion this year.
That's nearly double the $1.4 trillion the government estimated was spent on health care in 2000 — which was already twice the $714 billion recorded just 10 years earlier.
By 2018, the nation's tab for health care is expected to surge to $4.4 trillion, according to the National Coalition on Health Care.
As the health care reform movement goes into high gear, there is little question that escalating cost is the major factor driving the effort. But there is wide debate about whether health care legislation will reduce health care costs.
Glenn Melnick, an expert in health economics and finances at the University of Southern California, said the proposed plans contain vague notions of improving efficiency and increasing competition. But there's no guarantee that a government-run insurance plan or other overhaul proposals will bring costs down, he noted.
Much of the discussion over rising health care costs has centered on rising insurance premiums, with consumers and employers bemoaning their increasing financial burdens.
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