Most people assume that our healthcare systems are paid for through private funds. Those private funds coming from health insurance premiums or from employer based coverage. However, a recent study shows that in California, that is just not the case. In fact about 71% of all funds paying for California’s healthcare comes from public funds, meaning California’s taxpayers are paying for a majority of the state’s health coverage. In 2016 it is estimated that $367 billion will be spent on health care. With these numbers that means that roughly around $260 billion will come from taxpayer money.
But California seems to be a unique case. When looking at the country as a whole, it was estimated that only 45% of the $3 trillion spent on health care comes from public funds. So what has made California stand out so much from the national average? Well there are a few factors to look at. One is that the national average is estimated to be much lower than what is actually being used. The American Journal of Public Health estimates that a more accurate picture of national spending is around 65% of public funds are put towards health care. The second aspect is that California does have some unique cases. UCLA’s study on California’s expenditures states that “health spending through county public health expenditures, new Affordable Care Act subsidies and tax subsidies for employer-based health insurance drives the proportion of care paid for by the public well beyond the CMS estimate” California also has had a larger expansion of Medi-Cal coverage showing around ⅓ of the state’s population is covered through this low income program.
What does this mean for you? Researchers are now beginning to question what it would look like to have a single payer health care system because we are already leaning towards that end of the spectrum as it stands. But we will have to wait and see how things continue to change with our aging generations and shifting political systems.