View Full Version : Cost of Health Care for all (US)

06-21-2011, 01:52 PM
From here http://www.factcheck.org/2009/03/uninsured-us-citizens/

Aproximatly 45.7 million people do not have Health Insurance in the US. What would be the yearly cost to cover these people with Medicare?


06-21-2011, 03:09 PM
http://www.ncpssm.org/medicare/fastfactm/ says that the cost of Medicare was approximately $11,000 per person in 2008. Of course, Medicare is only for the disabled and elderly right now, so the cost of covering the currently uninsured might be something less... but then you'd also be sharply increasing the demand for medical services and costs usually rise in response to that. Anyway, it's a starting point and it's not tainted by a partisan think tank's bias.

06-21-2011, 03:48 PM
Obviously massive differences and i'm only offering this as a rough pointer...

Caveats out of the way the in 08/09 the NHS cost 1,980 for every person in the UK, rather ambiguous I know.


Bear in mind that children and the elderly (those who use most healthcare) are paying much less in tax (or none) than those in work, of which there are around 30m in the UK, half the population.

There are arguments that public healthcare is more efficient, economies of scale etc... but there are also similar arguments in the opposite direction that the NHS is bloated, bureaucratic and a big waste of money :). Personally i'm all for it.

I also suspect that current private medical care in the US is closer to that of private care in the UK. People paying privately probably wouldn't put up with some of the long waits on the NHS, its a different level of service. You get what you pay for!

06-21-2011, 04:06 PM
Canada's system is estimated at about $5K/person (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2009/11/19/health-care-spending-canada.html) per year, supposedly one of the highest public systems.

More generally, the US is a distant outlier on per-capita medical costs (not just the elderly) This chart (http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/spend.php) is a few years old, but the picture's about the same now.

Aside: If you're going to use this as ammunition in a health care debate, be aware that what the US is basically talking about (what the right calls "Obamacare") isn't a public health care system, but rather a subsidized private one: in other words, protecting the profit of health care is one of the stated goals. Given that, the assumption is that the level and rate of change of costs is likely not going to be affected much: we're replacing one different-from-every-other-industrial-country system with a different different-from-every-other-industrial-country plan, so there's not a lot of hard data about what the effects might be. Given that, there's limited value in looking at other countries' data, but it's the best we've got.

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