Forging A Connection Between Health Care And Infrastructure
America faces two enormous domestic challenges– the cost of health care and the need for infrastructure improvement – which are seen as separate when they should be viewed as interrelated. Such a connection would enable the nation to save money and live in better health, while making both systems more sustainable.
The costs are extraordinary. According to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. spending (public and private) on health care totaled $2.9 trillion in 2014. The infrastructure repair backlog is $4.6 trillion, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
Yet we can anticipate even more dramatically rising health care costs if the epidemic of obesity and chronic diseases continues trending upward. About half of all adult Americans has one or more chronic health conditions, according to the CDC. Based on current trends, the Milken Institute projects that by 2023 chronic disease cases will increase by 42 percent, to 230 million, costing $4.2 trillion in treatment and lost economic output.
At the same time, our infrastructure system will have significantly more pressure placed on it as our population grows. The Census projects that the U.S. population will grow by nearly 100 million between 2014 and 2060.
All of this argues for a new approach–one that funds infrastructure improvements in order to enhance health, thereby reducing the cost of health care and freeing more funding for infrastructure. There are three categories where this could take place: systems, like water, that are vital to healthy living; pollution control systems that reduce disease; and improvements that enhance alternative modes of transportation and other forms of exercise.
But these are the very systems that are currently in jeopardy. America’s drinking water, for instance, received a D grade from the ASCE, yet nothing is […]