This is a fascinating video from the BBC with a statistician showing increasing wealth and life expectancy by country from 1810 to 2009. The visualization is excellent - and the impact of the WWII and the swine flu epidemic is impressive. More impressive (and not commented upon) is the fall in life expectancy in China associated with the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s.
What does this have to do with health care costs? The places where health care is most expensive just so happen to be those with the highest GDP -and in general they have the longest life expectancy. Increasing wealth is enormously important to improved health - all the more reason we should manage our economies for robust growth. When health care costs end up being so high that they are a major impediment to growth, that can actually lower health!