Hospital treatment cost -v- mortality rate

Welcome to the blog Mrs Price, a graph for you:


Hospital treatment cost v Mortality rate


The Source is a paper based upon data collected over the past two centuries on mortality and costs incurred at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Broadly speaking one can describe three periods:

  • Until 1910, there were flat costs with year-to-year variation in inpatient mortality determined more by world events and epidemics than by the quality of care.
  • Then until 1960 or so value increased modestly with the introduction of novel high-impact therapies, such as penicillin and other antibiotics.
  • For the rest of the 20th century research became industrialized, with complex diagnostics and therapeutics to address an expanding array of diseases discovered and introduced: it now became worthwhile to spend more on health care. In this period, each extra $1,000/patient (2010 dollars) spent on hospital treatment led to 2.4 extra patients being discharged alive for every 1,000 admitted (~$400k to save a life).

Here’s an earlier article looking at health care costs compared to live expectancy which suggest the US health care system is less efficient than that of other countries.

What do people who lose their jobs do with their time?

One number in particular in this study of how American households spend their time caught my eye. It’s an estimate of how the time that would have been spent in work (market hours) is reallocated between housework, home improvements, etc (non-market work), childcare, leisure, etc. when people lose their jobs.

…less than 1% of the foregone market work hours are allocated to job search

That seems too low to me.

The rest of the breakdown is more plausible, and includes:

  • 51% of foregone market work hours are allocated to leisure (including 20% to sleep, 12% to television watching)
  • 30% of foregone market work hours are allocated to non-market work
  • 12% goes towards time investments in their own health care, their own education, and civic activities
  • 6% is absorbed as childcare

Here are how the 168 hours in a week are spent on average: