The Dollars & Sense of American Health

Mapping those systems which effect our health

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At Viking we love what we do and are proud to be making a difference in this world. We've worked with great clients to imagine and implement medical reference apps, EHRs for physicians, schedulers, and patient-at-home experiences. Our work has made a difference for tens-of-thousdands, perhaps even hundreds-of-thousands, but there are hundreds-of-millions with health and lifestyle related struggles. We wanted to figure out how we can help by first trying to understand the system on a macro level.

Why do Americans struggle so much with health? Is there a correlation between socio-economic status and health? Why is our healthcare so expensive, but has suboptimal outcomes? Who's winning and losing? What can we do to change?

We wanted to connect the dots, and sought to understand the existing corporate and governmental eco-system, and sprinkle a few well known facts where appropriate.


On March 8, 2014, the New York Times reported that the "Farm Bill Reflects Shifting American Menu and a Senator’s Persistent Tilling." The article reports the elimination of direct payments to agribusiness, plus a more than 30% reduction in traditional commodities subsides. "Funding for fruits and vegetables and organic programs increased by more than 50 percent over the same period, to about $3 billion" the article reports. Crop insurance will now be available to fruit and vegetable farmers.

Additionally, it was also reported that "Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade" on February 25, 2014.

By 2022, Medicare/Medicaid spending is projected to be $1.96T, making it alone nearly 11% of projected real GDP. Hopefully these leading indicators will scale to avoid such a large taxpayer outlay.  


We're grateful to the follow people for their feedback:

Shawn Carpenter, YCHARTS
William Bevington, Parsons The New School for Design
Jacquelyn Kung, ClearCare
Ed Silverman, Wall Street Journal & Pharmalot
Peter Sheats, ClearCare
Edouard Valla, Phreesia
Boris Khomut, Swellbox
Federico Garibaldi, Phreesia
Steven Ferguson, HelloHealth


Financial data sourced from YCHARTS "Sector and Industry Data.” / Lobbying data sourced from the Center for Responsive Politics.

  1. Net Profit & Revenue,” Sector and Industry Data, YCHARTS (March 1, 2014)

  2. Ranked Sectors,” Center for Responsive Politics (2013)
  3. U.S. Obesity Rate Climbing in 2013,” Gallup Well-Being (November 1, 2013)
  4. The Cost of Diabetes,” American Diabetes Association (October 21, 2013)
  5. Number of Americans with Diabetes Projected to Double or Triple by 2050,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (October 22, 2010)
  6. National Economic Trends,” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (March 5, 2014)
  7. Estimated Direct Spending Outlays, By Title, Resulting From the Conference Agreement on H.R. 2642, The Agricultural Act of 2014, As Reported on January 27,” Congressional Budget Office, Page 6 (January 27, 2014)
  8. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” U.S. Department of Agriculture (March 7, 2013)
  9. Census Bureau Projects U.S. Population of 317.3 Million on New Year's Day,” United States Census Bureau (December 30, 2013)
  10. FY 2013 Budget Overview,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration (March, 6, 2014)
  11. State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables 2013,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Page 6 (2013)
  12. “Obesity’s Toll: 1 in 5 Deaths Linked to Excess Weight,” Medscape (August 15, 2013)

  13. Chronic Diseases,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (December 17, 2009)
  14. Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007,” Physicians for a National Health Program (April 12, 2009)
  15. Bankruptcy Filings Drop 12 Percent in Fiscal Year 2013,” United States Courts (October 24, 2013)
  16. Household Debt in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011,” US Census Bureau (2011)
  17. Medical Student Education: Debt, Costs, and Loan Repayment Fact Card,” Association of American Medical Colleges (October 2013)
  18. Medical School Student Debt Is Skyrocketing,” Business Insider (April 12, 2013)
  19. FY 2013 Performance Budget Overview,” Department of Health and Human Services — Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (March 10, 2014)
  20. Differentials in the Concentration in the Level of Health Expenditures across Population
    Subgroups in the U.S., 2010
    ,” Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (August 2013)
  21. Eliminating Waste in US Health Care,” The Journal of the American Medical Association (April 11, 2012)
  22. Weight Loss Market in U.S. Up 1.7% to $61 Billion,” PRWeb (March 12, 2014)

  23. Gym, Health & Fitness Clubs in the US: Market Research Report,” IBISWorld (February 2014)

  24. With Top Lines Drooping, Firms Reach for Vitamins,” The Wall Street Journal (March 31, 2013)

  25. Yoga in America Study 2012,” Yoga Journal (2013)

  26. Dietitians and Nutritionists,” Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (January 8, 2014)

  27. National Health Expenditure Projections 2012–2022” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (p.8, January 7,2014)

  28. SIPRI Military Expenditure Database,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2013)

Published on by Anthony Ina.