How much of our health care spending is wasted? In this essay, I argue that the waste is less than many people believe.

I do not believe that health-care reformers should be taken seriously when they suggest that spending on health care in the United States could be brought down to the levels in other countries simply by eliminating waste. Instead, it is far more likely that bringing down health care spending would require a significant reduction in the quality of health care that Americans receive.

In the essay, I examine data on the “usual suspects” of health care waste–spending in the last year of life, administrative overhead, etc.–and find that they are not large enough to explain the discrepancy between the U.S. health care budget and that of other countries. I then proceed to question whether longevity statistics prove that U.S. health care is no better than in other countries.

For Discussion. Read the essay. Then comment.