On the Medical-Industrial Complex


  • John B. McKinlay




Ecology, Imperialism, Political Economy


Medical care is now probably the largest industry in the United States. Total spending for it in 1976 was just on $140 billion, or 8.6 percent of the Gross National Product (GNP). With per capita costs at $638 a year, the average American who can manage to stay in the labor force now works about two months each year for the medical industry. While the GNP has increased by 18 percent in the last two years, medical-care expenditures have risen by 31 percent—nearly twice the rate. Public spending for medical care continues to rise steeply (up 15.6 percent during 1976) and now accounts for 42 percent of all medical expenditure, while private spending continues to decline and now stands at about 58 percent. Hospital care remains the largest expenditure category at about 40 percent of total spending. Expenditures for physicians' services, at $26 billion, are now around 20 percent. If current rates of growth continue—and there is no indication that they will abate—then this nation's medical-care outlays may reach well over $200 billion by 1990, when, it is projected, there will be one medical worker for every 26 people in the population!

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