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Health Care Costs

October 10, 2006

A new analysis suggests the rising cost of health care may be relatively cheap.


A surprising look at health care costs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Overall, the rising cost of health care is a relative bargain, according to Harvard University economist David Cutler and his colleagues at the University of Michigan Health System. They recently calculated the average cost per American of the seven-year jump in life expectancy since 1960.

DAVID CUTLER (Harvard University):
The cost for each additional year of life has been just about twenty thousand dollars. So roughly for every twenty thousand dollars of lifetime spending, the newborn has had an extra year of life. That’s actually a very small number by the standards of what people are willing to pay for most any safety device.

However, Cutler notes that senior citizens pay four times more for each extra year of life, while lower-income and uninsured people may miss out altogether. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.