Report finds health care spending grew 146 percent in the past decade—wasting billions in the process on overpriced services and unnecessary care—while spending on community conditions grew by just 39 percent.
Oakland, Calif. and Brookline, Mass., July 23 – As California spending on health care skyrockets, state spending on programs and services that keep people healthy and prevent illness has grown far slower, according to a new report released today by the Lown Institute and Well Being Trust.
The report, California’s health care paradox: Too much health care spending may lead to poor community health, shows that from 2007 to 2018, state budget spending on health care (including Medi-Cal, health care for state employees and retirees, and health care for the incarcerated) grew by 146 percent, while spending on community conditions increased by just 39 percent, on average. California now spends just $0.68 on social services, public health, and environmental protection for each $1.00 spent on health care—down from $1.22 in 2007.
“Doing everything we can to address issues of access to health care is critical; however, we know this is not enough to solve the overall issues facing our nation’s health. There are vital community conditions—from a good paying job to a safe neighborhood to access to healthy foods—that truly determine how healthy someone can be,” said Benjamin F. Miller, Chief Strategy Officer for Well Being Trust. “What we know now is if we are not careful, Californians will unwittingly trade paying for these vital conditions for subsidizing the health care system.”
As California’s investment in community conditions declines, millions of Californians continue to suffer from chronic health care problems, high infant mortality rates, and lower life expectancy, brought on by toxic air and water pollutants, poverty, food deserts, lack of affordable housing, and low levels of formal education.
“California is spending billions of dollars on overpriced and unnecessary care, money it should be spending to keep communities healthy from the start,” said Shannon Brownlee, Senior Vice President of the Lown Institute.
To rebalance spending towards community conditions, the report provides a series of recommendations:
About the Lown Institute: Founded by world-renowned cardiologist and humanitarian Bernard Lown, the Lown Institute is a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to transforming America’s high-cost, low-value health system. The institute conducts research, generates bold ideas, and creates a vision for a just and caring system of health that works for all.
About Well Being Trust: Well Being Trust is a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social and spiritual health of the nation. Led by clinical, community, and policy innovators, Well Being Trust brings an ecosystem approach to prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental health and substance misuse issues, while prioritizing an upstream focus on resilience and well-being in communities.