Jack Ablin, the chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, has come up with an interesting way of looking at the U.S. healthcare debate – in particular, why does health care cost so much. His idea? Think of it like going out for dinner and splitting the bill with hundreds of thousands of other diners versus paying for your own meal. Would you order the steak and champagne or the chicken and a glass of water? Ablin enlisted the help of the owner of Aqua Grill in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, to help him find out.
It involved sifting through three years of guest checks and comparing the average spent per patron when a bill was split evenly versus the average when separate checks were tabulated.
“The results were dramatic, but not surprising,” Ablin wrote in a note to clients. “On average, splitting the bill costs diners about 20 percent more than paying their own check. The difference would be undoubtedly wider with large parties. Given that we spend about $2.5 trillion on health care annually, imagine the cost savings if we migrated to high-deductable policies and health savings accounts. Congress needs to look at shifting health care payments away from third-party payers and to individuals, using a combination of high-deductible health insurance policies and privately-directed health savings accounts.”