Mixed Up Math in NYT on Health Care

August 28, 2018

Margot Sanger-Katz had an interesting NYT Upshot piece on various proposals that are designed to have modest savings in health care that collectively could add up to large savings. The headline suggests that the target for these proposals is knocking one percent off of national health care spending.

It gives as an example using nursing facilities rather than hospitals for elderly patients in need of long-term treatments. The article cites evidence which indicates this could save the country $5 billion a year in health care costs. It then says, “If they’re right, the savings would probably be in the 1 percent range.”

While $5 billion a year is not altogether chump change (there are often big fights in Washington over less money) it is not close to 1 percent of national health care spending. The country spends over $3.3 trillion a year on health care, which means that 1 percent would be $33 billion a year.


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