Equality in Health Spending
Robert Samuelson reports
It is widely assumed that health care, like most aspects of American life, shamefully shortchanges the poor. This is less true than it seems. Economist Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution recently discovered this astonishing data: on average, annual health spending per person -- from all private and government sources -- is equal for the poorest and the richest Americans. In 2003, it was $4,477 for the poorest fifth and $4,451 for the richest. Probably in no other area, notes Burtless, is spending so equal -- not in housing, clothes, transportation or anything. Why? One reason: government already insures more than a quarter of the population, including many poor.