Targeted Care
Letter to the Editor

Many half-baked theories abound to explain changes in relative levels of health care use and health care spending ("Coming up short," Aug. 31). The reasons for slower growth in some types of U.S. health care spending within the last few years are rather complex, though partly related to declines in our economy. However, the recent National Bureau of Research study behind this story made a sloppy and flawed assertion that a key factor was Americans facing higher out-of-pocket costs than people in other comparable nations. It confuses absolute dollar totals (in a larger health care economy) with the more decisive "share" of health care spending that is paid out of pocket.

The most recent national health expenditure statistics show that our out-of-pocket share of health care spending continues to decline (11.5 percent estimated for 2009, 10.8 percent projected for 2014), which reflects a long-term trend. Moreover, the U.S. out-of-pocket share of health spending, as of the last comparative figures available in 2008 (12.1 percent), was below that of Germany, Canada and the weighted average of all reporting members, respectively.

In other words, Americans do not pay a higher portion of their own medical costs than citizens of any other developed nation. Moreover, not all "routine" health care turns out to be preventive, and most of it leads to more, not less, future health care spending. Much preventive care needs to be more targeted, rather than widespread, to be effective.

Thomas P. Miller is a resident fellow at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Thomas P.
Miller

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
    MON
  • 28
    TUE
  • 29
    WED
  • 30
    THU
  • 31
    FRI
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.