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Oncologist. 2011;16(7):920-5. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0074.

The American Cancer Society and the American Health Care System.

Author information

F.A.C.P., American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, USA. Otis.Brawley@Cancer.Org


The U.S. health care system is in critical condition. Costs are rising to the point that the high price of health care is a threat to the U.S. economy. In 2010, health care was more than 17% of the gross domestic product, and if it continues to rise at current rates, health care will become more than 25% of the overall U.S. economy. This growth rate is not sustainable. While U.S. per capita costs are the highest of any country worldwide, quality is varied. Indeed, American health care outcomes for cancer and other diseases are inferior to several European countries with far lower per capita costs. The truth is many Americans cannot afford adequate health care, and health care is rationed in the U.S. While many do not get the health care they need, some are actually harmed by overconsumption of unnecessary health care. These Americans are treated outside of established guidelines and get unnecessary procedures and take unnecessary medications. A substantial number of Americans are supportive of health care reform with the goal of getting needed, high-quality health care to those Americans who currently do not get it. The American Cancer Society is committed to using the established scientific methods of epidemiology to define the problems and identify possible solutions. We are committed proponents of the rational, evidence-based use of health care to avoid the wasteful and inefficient rationing of health care.

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