The Other 1 Percent: Sick People (Chart)

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Here’s a 1 percent no one wants to be part of: According to a recent analysis by Christopher Conover, a Duke University researcher on health policies and inequalities, barely 1 percent of the population accounts for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s already inflated health care spending. These few people each account for, on average, $115,000 in health care spending every year, which is almost three times the annual salary of the average American worker. Only 5 percent of the population accounts for fully 50 percent of all the nation’s health care spending. Everybody else generates, on average, about $360 a year in health care costs, or about 3 percent.

So it’s not hard to  see where some of the problems lie in the health care system, which is the biggest driver of the country’s long-term deficit problems. Conover helpfully provides a chart from his forthcoming book, American Health Economy Illustrated:

Health Care's 1 Percent: Christopher J. ConoverHealth Care’s 1 Percent: Christopher J. ConoverGiven the small number of people driving the rapidly escalating health care costs in this country, it seems like solving the problem ought to be a snap, right? Clearly some people need to be spending a little more to make sure they don’t get sick down the road, and perhaps others ought to be getting a little less of the expensive and not necessarily useful stuff. Of course, if the problem were that simple, it would have been fixed by now. As GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich said in 2005, “‘Health is about 30 times more difficult than national security.”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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