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We don’t feel so good, Mr. President

Health care spending is sapping us all: individuals, employers and the government. Getting the system in check is a challenge for President Obama

We don’t feel so good, Mr. President

The nation’s health care system has enough problems to give anyone a headache, and that probably goes for President Obama, too. The sober reality is that health care spending is on the rise, pinching already-strapped household budgets and sapping the government’s own health care programs. The affordability outlook is tough for both government and consumers.

We’ve gathered our best health care facts to deliver the President a comprehensive primer. Check out our infographic and links to consider that while US incomes are down, health care spending is way up for Americans. Insurance premiums are up, as are employee contributions. And those companies that used to offer health benefits to retired workers? Quickly disappearing.

Some Medicare facts, Mr. President: Government spending on Medicare prescription drugs is greatly outpacing prescription costs covered by other insurers. The entire Medicare program could run out of money as soon as 2024. In the meantime, more doctors, concerned about their bottom line, are limiting the number of Medicare patients they’ll see.

Obesity and chronic illness are straining both Medicare and Medicaid, especially in treating patients in their final months of life.

HIV patients are living full lives, but draining Medicaid. And the government is bearing the tremendous cost to provide for 9 million Americans who now qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

The health care reform law takes full effect in 2014, though challenges still loom. People who don’t buy health insurance by that time could face new penalties.

Now is the time for solutions, Mr. President.

Look at the big picture, zoom in on the facts, then consider what you would prescribe for the nation. “What Do Others Say?” offers some suggestions. Add yours to the discussion thread below. Where should the President start?

What do others say?

  • : Brookings Institution: “Curing health care” More

  • : Wall Street Journal: “How to research health care prices” More

  • : Kaiser Family Foundation: “Health care costs: A primer” More

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