A New York Times article observes that while healthcare costs have grown exponentially over the last 50 years, life expectancy has also increased dramatically. In the good old days, a typical American could expect to spend about $500 a year (adjusted for inflation) on healthcare; that figure has ballooned to $6,000 today. But look at the medical advances we've enjoyed: Physicians have discovered how to prevent heart attacks, oncologists have more success curing cancer, and more rare diseases are treatable with exotic pharmaceuticals. All of this extends life, but for a price. As our ability to treat or defeat diseases has grown, the cost of doing so has increased as well.
What the article doesn't mention, however, is what people in other parts of the world pay for their additional years of life. Looking at that data reveals that we pay far more than almost any other country for our medical care. So while we may enjoy a decade more of life than our predecessors did 50 years ago, people in other countries are enjoying it too--and at a much lower price.
- read the New York Times article