3 Health Matrix 195 (1993)
Life Style, Health Status, and Distributive Justice

handle is hein.journals/hmax3 and id is 201 raw text is: LIFE STYLE, HEALTH STATUS,
AND DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE
Robert L. Schwartzt
ONLY A FEW years ago the American system for providing
health care was considered rather benign - an inevitable conse-
quence of American values. Over the past few years, however, the
increased amount of our resources allocated to health care - now
about fourteen percent of the gross domestic product1 - and the
consistently high levels of those people not covered by even that
very high expenditure - fifteen percent across the United States,
and up to twenty-five percent in some states2 - have made the sys-
tem simply unacceptable. To put it simply, the cost of health care
and the widespread lack of access to it have become a national
t Professor of Law, University of New Mexico. B.A., Stanford University; J.D.
Harvard School of Law. The author appreciates the commentary and editorial assistance
offered by Pam Lambert, Margaret Caffey-Moquin, Karen Kingen and Jessica Sutin.
1. George D. Lundberg, National Health Care Reform: The Aura of Inevitability Inten-
sifies, 267 JAMA 2521, 2522 fig. 2 (1992). This is a remarkable increase over the 12% figure
for the previous year. See E. BROWN, HEALTH USA: A NATIONAL HEALTH PROGRAM FOR
THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, 1991 UNITED STATES INDUSTRIAL
OUTLOOK 44-1-11-6 (1991). Dr Lundberg, editor of the Journal of the American Medical
Association, views the increase in the resources spent on health care as an extreme that is
unacceptable. Lundberg, supra at 2522. The amount of our national resources spent on
health care has increased regularly and substantially over the past forty years.
National expenditures on health care have increased from $12.7 billion in 1950 to
$41.9 billion in 1965 to $647 billion in 1990. Per capita spending on medical care
has grown from $82 per year in 1950 to $211 in 1965 to $2511 in 1990... Between
1980 and 1988, the medical care component of the consumer price index increased
85% compared to a general increase of inflation of 43% ... Americans spend more
on health care than they spend on groceries, owner-occupied housing, or
transportation.
BARRY R. FURROW ET AL., HEALTH LAW 661 (2d ed. 1991).
2. Medicaid, which is the primary program designed to cover the poor, covers fewer
than half of the people under the federal poverty line. FURROW ET AL., supra note 1, at 529.
See also, Geraldine Dallek, Health Care for America's Poor. Separate and Unequal, 20
CLEARINGHOUSE Rav. 361 (1986). New Mexico, the state with the highest percentage of its
population without any form of private or public coverage, only recently brought that per-
centage down to one-fourth of its residents. GOVERNOR'S HEALTH POLICY ADVISORY COM-
MiTTEE, HEALTH FOR THE FUTURE: A PROPOSED HEALTH POLICY FOR NEW MEXICO 9
(1988). See also, KATHLEEN BROOK ET AL., HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE IN NEW
MEXICO 10 (1991). When the underinsured are added to the uncovered, the number may rise
to one-fourth the population of the entire country. Pamela J. Farley, Who are the Underin-
sured?, 63 MILBANK MEMORIAL FUND Q. 476 (1985).

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