It's appropriate that the last RealClearPolicy chart of 2012 should be one that strikes at the heart of U.S. policy developments and debates over the past few years. Dan Munro highlights a chart based on health care spending data from the actuarial company Milliman that indicates that annual spending on medical goods and services for the average American family of four rose above $20,000 in 2012:
According to the index, every U.S. family of 4 is paying the dollar equivalent of a new Chevy Cruze in healthcare costs. Every year. Without financing.... The largest single component, of course, is the underlying cost of health insurance.
Given that median household in the U.S. is a little above $50,000, the fact that health care spending by a typical household grew 100 percent in 10 years to $20,000, it's clear that the rising costs of and demand for health care insurance and products is the defining policy issue facing American familes.
Munro's post also includes another illuminating chart, one which illustrates that America faces a health care situation unique among nations: [UPDATE: This chart may be misleading. Readers at The Incidental Economist point out that it likely doesn't represent what it is meant to represent.]
Compared to several peer countries, the U.S. is an outlier in terms of old-age health care costs. Understanding why this is the case would go a long way toward reforming our health care system.