The Cost of Waiting

Princeton economics professor, Alan Krueger, calculates that Americans spend about 66 minutes per week, on average, obtaining health care. Using a wage of $17.43 per hour, the time costs of obtaining medical care totals nearly $1,000 per year per American (aged 15-years and above). That's equal to roughly 11% of total health care spending. [link] This implies that patients spend almost as much in time costs to get care as they spend in out-of-pocket cash.

Comments (5)

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  1. Bruce says:

    Amazing result. Of course the folks at Commonwealth don’t regard waiting as a real cost. They almost always ignore it, focusing instead on monetary costs.

  2. Joe S. says:

    I assume that $17.43 is the median wage. Tht means that half the people are earning a higher wage.

    That implies that for up to half the population, the time cost of care is greater than the money cost of care.

    Am I right?

  3. Larry C. says:

    Joe, you are assuming that the number of hours of waiting is distrbuted evenly across income classes. That may not be true. Still, you overall observation is a good one. It must be the case that for millions of people, time cost is greater than money cost.

  4. Mark R. says:

    Great piece. I wonder what the numbers would like in a single-payer system like Canada.
    Since there are no ‘out-of-pocket’ fees for medically necessary services in Canada, waiting is the only cost. I suppose from a Commonwealth perspective (and Michael Moore) – it means that Canadian healthcare is FREE!!! Tell that to the guy waiting 6 months to get an MRI.