By Mike Allen
February 27, 2021
The pandemic has pushed the debate over health care costs to the back burner, but it won’t stay there for long. Those costs are simply too great.
By the numbers: The U.S. spent a total of $3.6 trillion on health care in 2019, for an average of over $11,000 per person per year — far more than any other industrialized country.
- That’s the cost for a system that doesn’t deliver better outcomes than other countries and still leaves almost 30 million people uninsured.
How it works: The underlying cost of health care procedures is the biggest factor driving America’s spending.
- As those prices go up, so do health insurance premiums. That burden mainly falls on employers. Covering a family of four through an employer-based plan — the biggest source of coverage in the U.S. — costs as much as buying a new car every year.
- But employers have responded in turn by shifting more costs onto workers. The average deductible for employer-based plans has gotten over 200% bigger over the past decade, vastly outpacing wages.