Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Health Care Spending

The latest KFF report on health care spending is out. The full report is 20 pages and can be reviewed here.

Some things are new, some are old hat and irrelevant (at least in my opinion). Among the irrelevant stats are the comparison between health care spending in the U.S. vs. other countries. Frankly what folks spend in Sweden is not a concern to me since I don't live in Sweden, but some people get their underwear in a wad over those kind of figures.

Among the more interesting stats (to me at least) are these.

Half of health care spending is used to treat 5% of the population (page 5). I would be curious in knowing if that $1 trillion is money well spent. Do those recipients really have a longer, and better quality of life or is someone just "experimenting" with "free" dollars.

I say free, because large medical bills are almost never paid by the patient. Rather, they are paid by a carrier or government entity which is ultimately the taxpayer. When you aren't the one paying then money is no object, right?

The highest expenditures per person are for people over age 65 (page 10). Again, no real surprise. The per person expenditure for age 65+ was $8647. Compare & contrast with spending for those under age 45 at $2277 or less. The next highest expenditure was for age 45 - 64 at $4647 per year.

Also not surprising was that females spend more on health care than men with $3715 vs. $2836.

Hospital care was slightly over 30% of total spending (page 11). For those who think they save money on health insurance by purchasing a hospital only plan this simply points out the folly of such a plan.

Some of the reasons for increasing health care costs include:

The U.S. population is getting older (duh!) and with that comes an increase in disease (page 16). In particular is an increase in disease associated with lifestyle such as type II diabetes.

An interesting twist (and one I have heard before) is the prevalence of insurance lends itself to more expensive procedures being performed. This supports the mentality that the providers are spending someone else's money, not the patients money.

Interesting read.
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