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Health Care Spending Driving Federal Budget: Nate Silver

01/17/2013 11:16 am ET | Updated Mar 19, 2013

Government spending has risen a lot over the decades no matter who you measure it. A big share of the increase is due to -- you guessed it -- escalating health care spending.

Over at the FiveThirtyEight blog, the New York Times' stats guru Nate Silver digs into the trends in federal, state and local government spending for four broad categories. Nothing too surprising, maybe, but it's worth reviewing.

On health care, Silver neatly lays out where we are and where we're headed if we stay on the current trajectory.

The growth in health care expenditures, for better or worse, is not just a government problem: private spending on health care is increasing at broadly the same rates and is eating up a larger and larger share of economic activity. It's an immensely complicated problem, but the arithmetic is simple: if we can't slow the rate of growth in health care expenditures, we'll either have to raise taxes, cut other government spending or continue to run huge deficits. Or we could hope to grow our way out of the problem, but health care expenditures may be impeding private-sector growth as well.

health care spending

The whole post, which breaks down changes in government spending on entitlements, infrastructure and services, the military and interest payments, is merits a read.