Health care and disposable income

Sep 27, 2006

Following an earlier article about health expenses as an increasing proportion of the GDP, the New York Times has a piece today that defends the rising cost. David Leonhardt writes that while we're spending more per person per year ($5,500 more, in real dollars, since 1950), we're getting a whole lot more for our money. What we're paying for is a longer life. It's okay, Leonhardt argues, that we have a less to spend on consumer goods if we're instead spending our money on health care. Whether or not you agree, Leonhardt astutely identifies the real problem with our current efforts to cut spending on health care: we're doing so by cutting back on health care itself. "The growing number of families without health insurance are, in effect, families who have been kicked off the country’s health care rolls," Leonhardt writes. "Many will go without available treatment, will get sicker than they need to get — and will thereby save the rest of us money. They are what now passes for a solution to the health care mess." The truth hurts, and in this case, it hurts the uninsured the most. See also: Health Care Costs Rise Twice as Much as Inflation__, NY Times