Government Expected To Pay More Than Half Of US Health Costs

The government takeover of health care is continuing, even without President Barack Obama's planned overhaul of the system.

A new report by Medicare number crunchers says federal and state programs will pay slightly more than half the tab for health care purchased in the United States by 2012. The shift to a health care sector dominated by government is being sped up by the deep economic recession and the aging of the Baby Boomers, millions of whom will soon start signing up for Medicare.

Christopher Truffer of Medicare's Office of the Actuary says the tipping point is likely to come next year.

For technical reasons, the report assumes that Congress is going to allow Medicare to cut doctor fees by 20 percent later this year, as required by a 1990s budget law. But lawmakers have routinely waived such cuts, and they're not likely to allow them in an election year. So government probably will end up picking up most of the nation's medical costs in 2011, instead of 2012.

The analysis appears in the journal Health Affairs.

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