The United States isn't the only country where health costs are high and climbing. A common reason in all advanced countries, say health economists, is more complex technology and more and more specialists to operate it.
According to the latest available federal estimates, three European countries -- Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands -- spent more of their gross national product on health in 1975 than the United States. Germany spent 9.3 per cent; Swedent, 9.2; Netherlands, 8.7; United States, 8.4 (since risen to 8.9); France, 8.1; Australia, 8; Canada, 7.1; United Kingdom, 5.4.
Between 1970 and 1975, total health expenditures in several countries rose faster than this country's. The figures: Australia, 21.5 per cent yearly; Netherlands, 18.3; United Kingdom, 18.1; Germany, 17.9; France, 15.5; Sweden, 15.5; Canada, 13.9; United States, 12.6.
Wages in several of these nations were rising faster than American wages, however. "Factoring out" increases in wage levels -- that is, the fact that some countries had to pay higher salaries than others -- the comparative annual increases in health spending were: Germany and Australia, 6.7 per cent; Netherlands, 5.2; United States, 5.1; Sweden, 3.6; Canada, 2.7; United Kingdom, 2.2; France, 1.2.