Healthcare Inequality On the Rise

The Hill: “In healthcare, as in the rest of American life, the gap between rich and poor is growing. That’s the take-home message from our analysis of 50 years of data on healthcare use and expenditures that appears in the July issue of the journal Health Affairs.”

“In the bad old days of the 1960s—before Medicare and Medicaid—the wealthy got twice as much care as the poor. But those programs changed things. By 1977, the poor were getting 14 percent more care than the wealthy— an appropriate difference since the poor are sicker and need more care.”

“The pattern changed again in 2004. Over the next eight years, use of care by the wealthiest fifth of Americans grew by 19.7 percent, outpacing growth for the middle class by 57 percent. Meanwhile, care for the poorest fifth actually fell.”

“By 2012 the wealthy were getting 40 percent more doctor visits than other Americans. Overall, after adjusting for differences in age and health, the wealthy got 43 percent more care than the poor— $1,743 per person— and left the middle class in the dust too; the latter got $1,082 less care than the rich.”

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