More health spending, but for and financed by whom?

Read Matt Yglesias on why it makes sense for health spending to go up (it’s got some nice graphs).

Americans are getting richer, agriculture is becoming more efficient, apparel is increasingly made by Bangladeshis or robots, etc. At the same time, computers and other electronic gadgets are getting cheaper in real terms. And if some things shrink as a share of our income, other things need to grow. The biggest of those things has been health care. And that makes perfect sense. Richer people should be spending our money trying to be healthier.

He points to one problem, what we get for what we pay. Measured health outcomes are not so good in the US so the value for the money is low.

There’s another set of issues related to health spending. More may be (or could be) better, but there are substantial issues pertaining to who receives the benefit of that spending and how it is financed. That is, even if one concedes that it is appropriate to spend more on health care and even if one can do so in a way that improves health, whose health is it? Just Bill Gates and Warren Buffet?

If the benefits are to be widely shared, how do we pay for them? More debt? Until we answer those questions, a rate of increase in health spending that far outpaces spending in other areas is a big problem.

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