Ken WingFollow

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The author notes that the composition of the 'fundamental problem" of rising health care costs is not easily defined. The varying interests of providers, consumers, and the government's budget diverge and overlap in a weblike maze, creating multifarious and fractured perspectives regarding what actually constitutes the problem. Consequently, no underlying ideological thread in American health care policy has emerged to direct a unified response to the 'fundamental problem." It is in this political context that American health care policy of the 1980's will be shaped. Professor Wing has undertaken an exhaustive review of both health care cost data and the trends that these data reveal He discusses the impact of rising health care costs on the economy, examining expenditures for hospital services, physician services, nursing homes, and other services. He considers the rising costs of health care to state and federal government, particularly the impact of Medicare and Medicaid. Finally, he comments on the growing costs of health care to the consumer, including both rising premium payments for private health insurance and growing out-of-pocket payments. He places these data in the current political context and concludes with some observations regarding American health care policy into the 1990's.