Monday, April 11, 2011

Rationing of Health Care

The cost of eliminating all medical needs, no matter how small, means forgoing the benefits of spending those resources to meet other needs, such as food, clothing, housing, and education. Forgoing these other needs is the real cost of fulfilling all of our medical needs. As no country can afford to spend unlimited resources on medical services, each society must choose some mechanism to ration or limit access to medical services.
Paul J. Feldstein, Health Policy Issues: An Economic Perspective
The question, then, becomes one of fair and effective access. If health care must be rationed, how to ration it in order to ensure the best possible outcomes across a population?

What are the costs to the United States in terms of foregone food, clothing, housing, lost wages, and education? Currently, America spends about 18%, or 2.61 trillion, of its $14.5 trillion Gross Domestic Product on health care, by far the most in the world. This amounts to a per capita expense of about about $8,400. Switzerland, the next most lavish country, spends about 12% GDP on health care, or $5100 per capita. If the United States could reduce health care spending to 12% of GDP, it would have $870 billion for the aforementioned necessaries or to invest in the economy. It could also reduce the deficit by nearly three-fourths or effectively raise average household income by over $10,000.