The High Cost of One Day More

A new study reports that the 16 percent of the U.S. economy spent on health care has produced a significant increase in longevity over the past 40 years. The suggestion is that we are getting value for spending 30 percent more on health than anyone else while getting worse results in many areas.

Delving into the statistics reveals a huge disparity – as did Census figures on the economy earlier this week. Those household income figures showed that a slightly rising economy benefited the rich much more than the poor and that the increase in uninsured Americans has now penetrated the middle class. Today’s health spending figures show that most of the dollars are spent on relatively few people – the very old.

Over a lifetime, spending on today’s 65-year old averages $158,549, compared to $11,495 in 1960.

The question of how much health care is enough is partly philosophical and partly economic. At any longevity rate and at any cost, however, we deserve to know exactly what we are getting for our money in a system that rewards hospitals for fancy treatment instead of boring old prevention.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Though it’s a truly tough issue, it seems as well that 80% of our health care dollar is spent in the last two years of life. Sorry, I have no source for this.

    Our culture can grapple with this if we deliver a framework of facts and workable new approaches.

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