How Much Cost Shifting is There?

Americans without health insurance will spend about $86 billion on health care this year. Of that amount, $43 billion will come from government programs and $30 billion will be spent out-of-pocket. The remaining shortfall of $13 billion (presumably shifted to other payers) is a little more than one-half of 1% of the nation’s annual health care bill.

Full study [gated, but with abstract] is at Health Affairs online. Wall Street Journal article is here. Hat tip to Tom Miller.

Comments (3)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe S says:

    If true, the problem of cost shifting has been way overblown.

  2. Vicki says:

    It’s also interesting that the uninsured are paying for half the cost of their care.

  3. James Lansberry says:

    As a group they’re paying for half the *spending* of their care. The $43B the government will spend is for pennies on the dollar compared to what the $30B the self-pay patients pay.

    Also, if you eliminate the government spending and the consumption related to it, the remaining uninsured pay $30B for $43B in care. But that $43B would have cost less than $20B if it was billed at the same rate as BCBS would pay for the same services. As a group, the uninsured are not producing any cost shifting. They’re bearing the weight of the cost shifting related to third party contracts and government price fixing.

    And that’s before you consider the $13B that got consumed without being paid for–a true problem that ought to be dealt with.