Two economists from Princeton, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, surmise that “America’s sky-high health-care costs are so far above what people pay in other countries that they are the equivalent of a hefty tax” according to a recent article in the Washington Post.
“The U.S. health-care system is the most expensive in the world, costing about $1 trillion more per year than the next-most-expensive system — Switzerland’s. That means U.S. households pay an extra $8,000 per year, compared with what Swiss families pay. Case and Deaton view this extra cost as a “poll tax,” meaning it is levied on every individual regardless of their ability to pay. (Most Americans think of a poll tax as money people once had to pay to register to vote, but “polle” was an archaic German word for “head.” The idea behind a poll tax is that it falls on every head.)
Despite paying $8,000 more a year than anyone else, American families do not have better health outcomes, the economists argue. Life expectancy in the United States is lower than in Europe.
“We can brag we have the most expensive health care. We can also now brag that it delivers the worst health of any rich country,” Case said.
The two economists gave a talk at the American Economic Association’s annual meeting held January 3- January 5 in San Diego, CA.