Ryan, Dan; O'Rourke, Thomas
March 2008
American Journal of Health Studies;2008, Vol. 23 Issue 1, p47
Academic Journal
Health care costs have been rising to levels that are unaffordable for more and more Americans. Health care spending is frequently presented in global terms, such as trillions or billions of dollars or the percentage of the Gross National Product, which is difficult for many consumers and health professionals to understand or conceptualize. In order to gain a clearer perspective of health care spending, this article attempts to assess how much money a person could save if United States health care spending was equivalent to the median spending of other industrial nations. The high spending for health care in the U.S. compared to other industrial nations represents a significant opportunity cost which is the loss of potential gain from the best alternative to any choice. For example, annual savings would be sufficient to feed a family of four for 2 years, pay for gasoline for 2 years and 10 months, or pay household utilities for 1 year. Viewing health care spending in this context may be informative to health educators, politicians, health policy makers and citizens, and may also support initiatives to address this topic.


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