Health Care Reform

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We’re Just Getting Started

            We’re posting this note now to get thought processes started about the provision and cost of health care in America.  Health care is one of the big “entitlement” areas in the federal budget, and as such is coming under attack from “conservatives” who are working to eliminate the social functions of the federal government.  We will soon evaluate whether, as claimed, the American people would receive more universal health care much more cheaply with single payer insurance.

            What we have been able to determine so far is that the debate in 2009 was marred by gross distortions about “Obama-care,” legislation that was intended to increase the amount of private health insurance enrollment while eliminating the denial of claims based on pre-exiting conditions.  The legislation is under legal attack from the right on the grounds that it improperly requires everyone to purchase health insurance, an indirect approach always less satisfactory than other approaches to establishing universal health care. 

          One thing has been clear, however:  The media debate focused on wild claims about “death panels” and other scare tactics about government involvement in medical insurance that had no basis in fact or reason.  This political strategy could only have originated with health insurance companies determined to protect their lucrative turf from government interference.  If they were reduced to trying to scare people away from reform, we have reasoned, their own agenda most likely lacked a basis from a public-interest perspective.  If you can’t sell it, lie about it.

          We find it interesting that, given the chance to introduce its own alternative in a couple of years, the State of Vermont appears to be planning a single-payer, government-administered system, and in a news report on MSNBC a Vermont spokesman said the State expects to cut health care costs substantially.  We’ll be following developments there with interest.

          To get our thinking started on this topic, we’re posting the following graph from the Economic Policy Institute showing health care costs around the world in 2007:

     

          Three noteworthy things about this information: (1) At 15.7%  in 2007, the United States devoted a much higher portion of its GDP to health care than any other country; (2) The United States is around the norm for the percentage of GDP devoted to public expenditures on health care;  and (3) The portion of GDP devoted to private health care expenditures was twice as high as the next highest country (Switzerland), which is itself high relative to other countries.

          On its face, it seems apparent that the United States should be able to do much better in controlling health care costs, and it appears the logical place to start is to cut back substantially on the portion devoted to private expenditures. 

ARC, JMH – 4/3/11

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One Response to Health Care Reform

  1. Friend, I can curious about the widget you are using. Thank you sir forgive my english.

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