Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Feldstein on Healthcare

H/T Greg Mankiw.

Feldstein makes really excellent points here. But the one that struck me was this:

One reason the Obama administration is prepared to use rationing to limit health care is to rein in the government's exploding health-care budget. Government now pays for nearly half of all health care in the U.S., primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Is half the population covered by Medicare or Medicaid? Turns out that about 15% of the population is covered by Medicare and 13% by Medicaid. I don't know if there is any overlap. I'd venture the higher cost is due to end-of-life costs associated with Medicare. If true, doesn't it stand to reason that, in order to control costs, one must go after the "low-hanging fruit"? Seems to me that would be end-of-life costs. How to do it? Rationing.

But actually, it turns out I'm wrong. Medicare spending is about $300 Billion, while Medicaid is about $320 billion. Now, the Medicare numbers are for 2004 and Medicaid for 2007 (don't know why).

So let's assume that the costs are (roughly) the same. It's still 28% of the population (covered by the government) consuming 50% of all healthcare dollars?

And some want the government to run the whole thing?

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