Universal Coverage Isn’t the Issue, High Costs Are

August 27th, 2009 at 7:00 am | 10 Comments |

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The bottom line on the healthcare/insurance reform brawl is the bottom line.  We currently spend about 16% of our GDP on healthcare in its various appearances and appendages.  The other industrialized democracies spend around 8% to 11% of their respective GDP’s.  The cost of healthcare in the US is advancing at twice the rate of inflation; if we don’t turn that situation around, we could all face the prospect of a choice between paying the health insurance premium or putting gas in the car.  Most of the shenanigans that have affected the brawl are about health issues, not really about the bottom line: how do we pay for it, and how much should we pay?  If we could bring our spending down to a level comparable to other countries, say 12% of GDP, the sickness-based industries would see a cut in their revenues of 25%.  They won’t submit to that without a fight.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Churl

    So, tell us which counties spend 8% or 11% of their GDP on health care, how their costs and ours are calculated, and what their consumers get for their money.

  • rbottoms

    I have a spine operation scheduled for January that will run around $100,000. Right after my diagnosis we lost coverage but by a miracle I was fortunate enough to qualify for COBRA a couple months. It’s pure luck that I am not facing destitution and becoming paralyzed. So I haven’t got a lot of use for “free market” solutions.

  • Chekote

    So I haven’t got a lot of use for “free market” solutions.

    The procedure you will undersgo was developed because of the profit motive. We are the leaders in medical procedures and pharmaceutical because of the profit motive. But if you rather have 19th century medicine then move to Cuba. Michael Moore said it the healthcare there is wonderful.

  • rbottoms

    We are the leaders in medical procedures and pharmaceutical because of the profit motive.

    That would have been a great comfort as my spinal sac was slowly being crushed.

  • liv&win

    AHHHHHH. I am going to lose it. WHO CARES what the percentage of GDP is! I care only that my health care costs are reasonable and affordable and that the quality is high. If thats all you cared about, and you and you and you and you, then we would be united, out of natural self interest, in a common goal. Is there a role for government here, sure, limited, but yes.

    It is my health insurance premium, which I have to pay myself, that is almost unaffordable. And unfortunately, I don’t have a choice but to continue to pay the ever increasing costs while feeling, believing and knowing, that I getting riped off. But I don’t fully blame the insurance company. I know their cost is predicated on the cost of care. Sure, there is administration and profit, but I can see the value-added benefits they bring, or don’t bring to the table. But I just don’t have a lot of choice but to bite the bullet. I see friends with hospital bills, $4000 ER room charges for 6 hours of sitting around, $55,000 for a simple surgery and 3 additional days in the hospital, $983,000 and one year in hospital because a friend got sick IN THE HOSPITAL following a simple surgery, $120 for a 15 minute consultation with the doctor.

    Faced with a terrible system that is totally out of sync with providing a valuable customer service experience, I have no choice but to pay high and increasing insurance costs. By the way, I am on a HSA with a $6000 family deductible, which is THE MOST cost effective approach for me and my family.

    Lets get off this ride. Everyone is playing politician, bureaucrat or god and talking about how their would CONTROL this train wreak. Think of yourself, for yourself. What do you want? What do you really need? What prevents that from happening? Insurance, buearucrates, government policy, AMA, ADA, providers, hospitals, consumers…everyone is culpable. What do you and I need to do, change or sacrafice to provide you with what you want? Have you thought about what it is that you want, fundamentally, out of health care? At base, I want reasonable access to quality health care at an affordable price that is free from government and insurance company bureacracy and provides choice of providers. ANY solution that provides that, I will do, change and sacrafice for. What is YOUR bottom-line, not your ideal for society, but YOUR want and need. Get to a basic, like I have. Then we can solve for it and build it.

    SO, Churl, what do you want? I am interested in is what your most fundamental requirement for health care?

  • liv&win

    Rbottom, I too am glad you have insurance to cover the ridiculous cost of your surgery. Clearly, if there was only market based solutions, you would be faced with a hope and prayer that you had prepared yourself financially for this contingency and that the cost would be lower.

    But in case after case, it can be demonstrated that market reforms will lower the cost of care dramatically, especially in the absence of government mandated imbalances in demand, supply and incentives. No one can adequately be prepared to self finance a catastrophic cost like your surgery. So there is a place for risk sharing mechanisms. I just prefer private risk sharing options to government mandated, poorly managed ones.

  • wrs10

    Churl “So, tell us which countries spend 8% or 11% of their GDP on health care”

    You should learn to Google! Just this once I shall help you out!

    http://www.angelfire.com/rnb//y/universal.htm (copy & paste into your URL line, the press “Enter”

    Scroll down to “Health costs, stats, charts. By nation” and read the charts for 2007.

  • sinz54

    “WHO CARES what the percentage of GDP is!”

    Conservatives should care because if health care continues to eat up a steadily larger portion of our wealth, then:

    Real wages will stagnate, R&D will stagnate, and investment will stagnate–because all the profits made by corporations will go into paying their employees’ health care costs.

    Since the lion’s share of these health care costs is Medicare for the elderly, the Federal budget will grow and grow, requiring tax hikes year after year.

    This is NOT just a problem afflicting America. As a percentage of GDP, health care costs are rising in every Western nation, even those with single-payer health care systems. The West will grow weaker. And our adversaries from the Islamist World will grow stronger.

  • Churl

    Thanks, wrs10, that is part of the answer. Now answer the other two questions, especially the one about what consumers get for their money.

  • Travis

    “We are the leaders in medical procedures and pharmaceutical because of the profit motive.”

    …because of the profit motive of care providers and pharmaceutical companies. But what has the profit motive of insurance companies provided us?

    Because of their profit motive, insurance companies are better at assessing the risk of providing insurance to you and I (and they’ve probably improved the way they invest our premium $s too), but what good does that do to Joe the Insured?