One of the benefits of spending some time last week on Martha's Vineyard is that I was able to pick up the 2009 annual report of Martha's Vineyard Hospital. Page five carries a useful little pie chart headlined "Sources of Funds M.V. Hospital," reporting that 36% of the hospital's revenues come from Medicare and 15% from Medicaid. That adds up to 51%, or more than half. Just to get another comparison point, back home in New York, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, whose $2.9 billion in revenues are about 60 times those of Martha's Vineyard Hospital's, reports that its own patient mix is 29.8% Medicare and 29.1% Medicaid, for a total of 58.9% of patients whose medical coverage derives from a government payer in one way or another. At a certain point, the argument about "socialized medicine" and a "public option" becomes a bit of a red herring when the government is already such a big payer. So, too, do the Obama administration's complaints about how under the current system, we spend more than other countries but are no healthier. With this large a share of the spending, the government, rather than the doctors or the drug companies or the insurance companies, might be held accountable for some of the outcomes.
I have been citing 45.3% as the government share of health spending in America in 2007. The 51% and 58.9% numbers are even larger. One thing that is remarkable is the ability of these institutions to attract private philanthropic dollars alongside the government funds. The Martha's Vineyard Hospital annual report lists gifts of $2.5 million or more from Warren Spector, formerly of Bear Stearns, and of between $500,000 and $999,999 from Obama administration automobile industry aide Steven Rattner.