Equality in Health Care

Annual spending on health care per person is nearly identical for the richest and poorest Americans, according to Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution.  Here are the numbers for 2003:

Annual Health Spending Per Person.

Washington Post story is here.  Hat tip to Grace-Marie Turner.

Comments (4)

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  1. Joe S says:

    This is probably more equality than you would find in Canada or Britain.

  2. Tom says:

    Considering that wealthier tends to be healthier,
    the amounts would not be equal if spending were distributed on the basis of need.

  3. Roger Beauchamp says:

    I am very skeptical of all studies. Many are done to support a political, ideological or special interest position. This study seems to equate money spent to value received! I do not see it that way. Citizens at the low end of the economic spectrum receive less value for the money spent than others. They frequently are first seen at the hospital emergency room, the most costly model for delivering care. Also, I believe that care purchased with public assistance dollars under our present system is not cost effective.

  4. Devon Herrick says:

    Health care is arguable one of the few areas of our economy where people of modest means are often forced to pay for medical care with levels of luxury the rich enjoy. Whereas a person of modest means can drive a used car, live in an older, smaller house or shop at Goodwill. They have to pay the same insurance premiums someone far wealthier might also pay. One example is health insurance. Most economists believe that workers ultimately pay for their own health care through reduced wages. This is why firms that disproportionately employ large number of low-skilled workers often do not offer health coverage. They know their workers prefer cash wages to health benefits. Yet many public health advocates think moderate-income families are better off with costly, comprehensive health plans that a health savings account coupled to a high-deductible health plan. In their mind people with such plans are “under-insured.”
    Milton Friedman once noted (http://www.fff.org/freedom/0194e.asp) that people do not have the option of seek care from a health professional who doesn’t have Cadillac medical training even for those procedures that could be handled by lesser trained individuals. A recent phenomenon is retail clinics staffed with nurse practitioners. The idea of nurse practitioners staffing retail-based clinics is controversial to some in the medical community.
    Recently a worker at Blue Ridge Paper, Carl Garrett, was prevented from seeking care in India when his union forced Blue Ridge paper to rescind an offer to send him abroad in return for sharing in a portion of the savings (as opposed to going into debt from cost-sharing). (http://medicaltourisminthailand.blogspot.com/2006_09_14_archive.html) According to Garrett, the unions “… have taken money out of my pocket.” Other union members were also eager to go in return for the chance to share in the cost-savings.