Category Archives: Health Care

The health of our citizens

Personal Health

Very early on with this Blog, I posted about personal health and solutions. Since that time our rate of obesity has increased to over 42% and per capita healthcare costs have almost doubled. I am the first to point out the shortcomings of our system which are facilitated and protected by our government but we need to also understand that we are significant contributors (at the personal level) to the outrageous cost of medicine in our country.

For that reason I feel compelled to rerun some of the posts from my earlier effort;

“Obesity has been cited as a contributing factor to approximately 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year and has increased health care use and expenditures, costing society an estimated $117 billion in direct (preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to weight) and indirect (absenteeism, loss of future earnings due to premature death) costs. This exceeds health-care costs associated with smoking or problem drinking and accounts for 6% to 12% of national health care expenditures in the United States.”

Solutions are available and all it takes is a modicum of effort:

“By now I suspect you are beginning to understand the issue. As Americans, we eat quite a lot. I wonder how we do on exercise? It is estimated that the average person takes about 10,000 steps a day. While this is not considered incremental “exercise”, it does add to your calorie burn. This activity will burn about 350 incremental calories, so now we are up to 1,850. Only about 15% of Americans have a scheduled exercise period beyond normal activity. The recommendation for all of us is a minimum of 30 minutes of any sort of exercise that will raise your heart rate by at least 50%. If your normal heart rate is 60 bpm then you need to raise it to 90. Brisk walking at 4 mph will accomplish this. You do not have to pay for a gym to walk! This will burn another 300 calories, so now we are up to 2,150. Need some motivation to commit to this 30 minutes a day?

If you have yet to watch the video “23 ½ hrs.” please take a few minutes to do so:

A common comment is: “I’m a very busy person. I can’t spare even 30 minutes a day for exercise.” I have two suggestions for this person:

  1. Most people are lacking in time management skills. Unless time management is already incorporated into your daily activities then I would bet you are missing out on at least 30 minutes of daily time (probably closer to an hour). If you have not taken advantage of this skill set, do so.
  2. Set number one above aside. All of us need at least 30 minutes a day of alone time where we just plan and think things through. Pick an exercise activity that allows you to multi-task (both exercise & plan/think at the same time).

About ingestion of calories

However, we still have a problem and that is? You know this one as well………. We just eat too darn much food! Based on the averages we would need to exercise almost 3 hours a day to avoid gaining weight and that is not going to happen. There is no way around it, we must shrink our stomachs and learn to eat less. The average American needs to eat about 1,000 calories fewer a day, even with the recommended 30 minutes of exercise!”

A tip that works for me: I never consume more than 4 ounces of meat or fish at any time and keep my total consumption at 8 ounces or less. If I have prepared too much I will put the overage in the fridge and have it a few hours later as a snack or as leftovers to supplement my next meal. This keeps my stomach to a reasonable size and helps curtail appetite (at least for me).

The Elephant in our Country

The Elephant in the room paints a picture that is likely used far too often. In our country’s case, it is more than appropriate. The healthcare industry is by far the largest industry in our country. Our per capita costs exceed $13,000 which is about 2 ½ times the average of the EU countries. The top four sectors (see chart following) are all part of the healthcare industry. The numbers for 1,3 & 4 are all part of the problem as are a significant portion of item #3. If we use a very conservative ratio of 5% for number 2 the total is over $4.3 trillion and that does not include the $34 billion we spend on healthcare premium credits. This industry accounts for 16% of our annual GDP. We spend over $2 trillion more than we should be spending, hence why I refer to this as a hidden tax on our residents. This tax is almost an added 50% on top of the tax that you can see.  I am appalled and you should be. What is being done to remedy this? The answer is next to nothing. A solution to this issue is our current revenue shortfall. So, who pays for our healthcare system? Our Government and amount subsidizes Medicare and Medicaid to almost 38%. Companies share in this cost through their benefit programs and this amounts to about 24%. The remaining 38% is paid by us in the form of insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and by workers for the portion that their company insurance does not cover.  

Based on the expert analysis and our database of 1,300+ US industries, IBISWorld presents a list of the Biggest Industries by Revenue in the US

The 10 Biggest Industries by Revenue in the US


Annual Revenue

1. Hospitals in the US                                                               $1.426.9B

2. Drug, Cosmetic & Toiletry Wholesaling in the US           $1.364.7B

3. Pharmaceuticals Wholesaling in the US                            $1.292.2B

4. Health & Medical Insurance in the US                               $1.246.9B

5. Commercial Banking in the US                                            $1.210.9B

6. New Car Dealers in the US                                                   $1.124.3B

7. Life Insurance & Annuities in the US                                  $1.121.4B

8. Public Schools in the US                                                           $995.7B

9. Retirement & Pension Plans in the US                                   $937.4B

10. Gasoline & Petroleum Wholesaling in the US                    $928.0B

Who is to blame? We are! Nothing will change until we wake up and demand that our elected representatives take positive action. And what action would that be? For starters we need to evaluate the healthcare systems of several other countries (I suggest 5): Spain, France, Italy, Portugal & the UK. An “independent” task force of healthcare & financial professions should be tasked with evaluating these other systems and by taking the best elements present a plan that reduces our per capita cost in half without reducing available services. Warning: There will be considerable backlash from Hospitals, Drug companies, the legal profession, Insurance providers physicians, and others that feed at the healthcare trough.

Healthcare by Country
Per Capita
 Slovakia $    2,691
 Hungary $    2,840
 Poland $    2,973
 Greece $    3,015
 Estonia $    3,091
 Israel $    3,444
 Latvia $    3,445
 Lithuania $    3,587
 Slovenia $    4,114
 Portugal $    4,162
 Italy $    4,291
 Spain $    4,462
 Czech Republic $    4,499
 South Korea $    4,570
 Japan $    5,251
 Iceland $    5,314
 United Kingdom $    5,493
 Finland $    5,676
 Ireland $    6,047
 New Zealand $    6,061
 Denmark $    6,280
 Canada $    6,319
 Luxembourg $    6,436
 Sweden $    6,438
 France $    6,517
 Australia $    6,596
 Belgium $    6,600
 Austria $    7,275
 Netherlands $    7,358
 Norway $    7,898
 Germany $    8,011
 Switzerland $    8,049
United States $  12,555
Average of other $        5,445

USA Health Care Reality

USA Health Care Reality

Our healthcare costs are enormous and continue to rise at over double-digit rates. Currently, they average almost $13,000 a year for every man, woman & child. If this were considered an Industry (and it is) it would rank as by far the largest in our country at $4.3 trillion annually or about 18% of GDP. Our costs are more than 2.5 times the average EU country healthcare costs. Over 1/3 of these costs are borne by the Federal Government in the form of Medicare (funded by the taxpayer), Medicaid, and “Affordable Healthcare” subsidies. Approximately another 1/3 is funded through company healthcare insurance and the balance is funded via private insurance in the form of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. This latter segment is mandated via the “Affordable Healthcare Act”. For lower-income families, this act provides s coverage where none was previously available. However, for the majority of the population (the middle class) it is expensive and amounts to catastrophic coverage. Premiums are high and the required upfront deductible is enormous.

I believe healthcare should be considered a citizen right like it is in most other first-world countries (EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, etc.). But you say that other countries have much higher tax rates which is why they are able to subsidize healthcare. Really? Higher healthcare costs are a major contributor to employee benefit costs. Over the last 20 years, these costs have almost tripped while inflation-adjusted family income has only risen by 8%. Workers are funding the increase by not getting increases in wages. I call this a “hidden tax”. To cover the enormous cost insurance companies have increased premiums, deductibles & co-pays. Again, a hidden tax. Do the math. We are the most heavily taxed country in the world.

And amazingly: