How much is too much to spend on health care?
In this interview with National Public Radio health care economist Uwe Reinhardt suggests that the percentage of pre-tax income we can expect families to pay for care should be based on a sliding scale so that a waitress making less than minimum wage would not be expected to contribute more than 5 percent of her income while wealthier families could pay up to 10 percent of pre-tax income for health care.
Of course, paying 5 percent or 10 percent of pre-tax income for medical care would be a vast improvement over the current system.
According to a report released last month by Families USA nearly 18.7 million non-elderly Americans will spend more than 25 percent of their income on health care in 2009. About 64.4 million people will spend more than 10 percent of their family income on health care in 2009. And most of the people included in this study actually have health insurance.
It’s not enough to simply have health reform — any plan must also be affordable. That means that we need to analyze what “affordable” means. And Professor Reinhardt is correct, affordable for one family is prohibitive for another.
We can all agree that 25 percent of income, which is what many people are currently paying, is much too much for health care. I think a sliding scale with 10 percent as an upper limit sounds more reasonable.