Wednesday, September 09, 2009

U.S. health care costs too high? Compared to what?

I just got an e-mail from Indiana's junior U.S. senator, Evan Bayh. He was replying to an e-mail I sent him recommending that we return to more of a free-market in health care to reduce cost and increase quality and availability.

Senator Bayh wrote me, "A growing threat to our economy is the skyrocketing cost of health care. The U.S. system is the world's costliest; the country spends some $2.4 trillion a year on health care."

That is a hard number to put in perspective, so I did a little math on it. A Google search tells me that the U.S. population is about 304,059,724 (as of July 2008). Dividing this figure into $2.4 trillion, it works out that the average annual health care cost per person is just under $8,000. Of course a lot of that is hidden in the money that employers pay to provide health care insurance for their employees.

Meanwhile, I see here that the average annual cost to send one student per year to Washington DC government (i.e., public) schools is $24,600.

The Real Cost of Public Schools | Cato @ Liberty

Why is $8,000 per person for health care such a national emergency, but exorbitant costs for public / government schools are apparently not so much?

This article also points out that the cost for the government option in education is about 68 percent higher than the cost of private education.

Is the same sort of surcharge the politicians are proposing that we pay for a "public" health care option?

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