Category Archives: Health Care

The health of our citizens

Healthcare Revisited – A simple solution to 2 problems

  • Healthcare Revisited – A simple solution to 2 problems

As the Democratic contenders vie for the nomination “Healthcare” is again one of the more significant topics. Medicare for all, private option and other variants are being proposed. My view is that no candidate is willing to confront the real issue with our broken healthcare system. I strongly believe that healthcare should be a right of citizenship and permanent residency. However, as a fiscal conservative I cannot support a solution that adds to our out of control National Debt.

When searching for solutions to any problem I favor two approaches. First, start by working “upstream”. By this I mean search for the cause of the problem. Once you determine that cause keep working on additional factors that are contributing to the it. The US has by far the highest cost of healthcare, per capita, of any country in the world. Our costs are almost three times the average for the EU countries without the corresponding benefit of better quality of care. What is causing the problem and why are we not addressing solutions?

There are several factors that contribute to out of control costs. Among them are the role of insurance companies, drug costs, hospital costs, physician compensation, obesity rates and legal factors. These areas have been thoroughly addressed in several earlier posts on this topic.

The second method that I advocate for problem solving is a technique called “base-lining”. What this means is to investigate other systems that are yielding positive results and learning how to benefit from the experience of others. There are several countries’ systems that are worth investigating that have a higher quality of care at less than half the per capita cost.

Solving the cost issue would more than cover the cost of proving healthcare for all and would also significantly reduce the out of balance national budget deficit. One solution to improve, if not solve, two problems.

Let’s Make America Great Again

Let’s Make America Great Again

There is nothing wrong with this slogan, but agreement on what this really means is in question. It seems that the intended meaning is to restrict immigration, company deregulation, reverse Roe v. Wade, shift more income and wealth to the top 1%, alienate our former allies, reverse our trend of “free trade” and provide support to the cause of “white” separatists.

I am not being critical, just stating the facts. Many folks completely support the aforementioned agenda which is their right. However, when I last checked, we still have a fairly democratic system and the majority do not support most of these actions.

Reliable data supports the following shortcomings in our country, if pursued, have the potential to “make America great again”:

  1. Quality, cost & availability of Healthcare (We have by far the highest per capita cost and rank 37th in quality of care. At the same time many citizens are not covered0
    1. An equitable living wage (income disparity and the lack of wage improvement)
    1. Climate change (mortgaging future generations for immediate gratification)
    1. The national debt (again we are mortgaging future generations for immediate gratification)
    1. Infrastructure (repair & upgrades)
    1. Comprehensive and effective immigration reform

The above is not a comprehensive list, but I contend that if we pursue them and enact reasonable legislation, we will be moving in a direction of improving our “greatness”.

The Healthcare Issue Revisited, again….

The Healthcare Issue Revisited, again….

One of my top soapbox issues is the status of our broken Healthcare system. It continues to bother me to no end. I suspect that I will continue to revisit this subject often. Here are a few bullet points that I hope will garner your attention:

  • Our country has by far the most expensive system among all counties
  • In 2018 the cost of our healthcare system was $11,600 for every man, woman & child!
  • The average per capita cost for the EU, Canada, Australia & NZ was about $3,800 or 3x our cost.
  • According to the WHO (World Health Organization) almost all of these countries deliver a superior healthcare product. (We rank 37th among all counties)
  • We spent $3.8 trillion on Healthcare in 2018 (over 18 % of GDP) making it by far our largest industry. https://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2014/02/02/annual-u-s-healthcare-spending-hits-3-8-trillion/#17694b3a76a9 
  • The Government pays for less than 30% of this, $1.1 trillion in the form of Medicare & Medicaid. The remainder is paid either by companies’ insurance benefits or by the tax payer in the form of premiums, co-pays and for some self-insured it is simply out of pocket. I could not fund a breakdown between what employers’ pay vs. others.
  • The Cost of Medicare & Medicaid is the single largest Budget Expense at almost twice that of what we spend on Defense and it the major contributor to the annual deficit.
  • Since there are much cheaper and better systems available to our leaders their inaction levies a very high tax on the tax payer. I have referred to this as a “hidden” tax since you do not realize that you are paying it.

Many smaller industries have their hand in our very lucrative system. For details on those I would refer you to earlier posts to my blog. The solution is not very complicated and the reason that it will likely never happen has to do with so much money being made in the private sector. Again, I would refer you to prior posts on this same subject for the details.

The high cost of health care can have several negative effects, including the following:

  • When the government spends more on health care, the national debt increases and/or funds available for other programs decrease.
  • When people spend more on health care, they have less money to spend for other things, and when health insurance is paid by their employer, they are paid less.
  • When employers spend more on health care, the costs of their products and services increase, and jobs may be moved to countries with lower health care costs.
  • More people cannot afford health care insurance. When people without health care insurance receive health care, they usually cannot pay for it. As a result, this care is paid for by other people who are paying into the health care system. Or, people without health care insurance may not seek care when they need it and thus develop a serious disorder that could have been prevented.
  • Medical bills that are not covered by health insurance can lead to bankruptcy.  https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/fundamentals/financial-issues-in-health-care/overview-of-health-care-financing