Thursday, September 10, 2009

Money and Health


"Let's face it folks, if health care was manufacturing or Walmart, the jobs and services would already have been outsourced to the cheapest foreign competitor."


    The media tells me that health reform is a very complicated issue, that it is hard to understand and even harder to explain to simple-minded and politically unsophisticated people like me. It is about money and costs and free-market and big government socialists versus real America, or something like that.

    So, I ask: How can the majority of other industrialized nations manage to provide affordable health care to their citizens?

    The fabulous media roll their eyes and show me the following Organization for Economic Development (OECD) report:

    Total health care spending per person as of 2007:

    US: $7,290

    UK: $2,992

    Japan: $2,581

    Canada: $3,895

    France: $3,601

    The average OECD expenditure: $2,964

    Now, this health care spending gives the US a sort of neutral bang-for-the-buck result. We do better in some areas and not so good in others.

    O.K., got it.

    Next question: If other countries spend less than half of what the US spends (on average) with good results, where does all our money go?

    This is where my neat-o media suddenly points across the room at the man jumping up and down about wanting his country back or the lady hollering about the Muslim socialist in the White House. Look, look they say, Jerry Springer politics is so entertaining!

    But I still want to know where all that money goes. Don't you?

    We spend twice the money on health care as most other countries and we are supposed to just accept this as the cost of a free market, the price of being American? Let's face it folks, if health care was manufacturing or Walmart, the jobs and services would already have been outsourced to the cheapest foreign competitor.

    I'm not a journalist or a particularly educated guy, but golly, gee whiz Batman, it seems to me that somebody is getting ripped off here - and that somebody is, us.

    Here's more figures I hear tossed around without examination: The administrative costs of Medicare run about 3 percent while the corporate health insurance industry administrative costs hover at 30 percent.

    How can that be? I thought the government was really bad at managing anything while private enterprise is expert at cost containment. But the businessmen require ten times as much overhead costs as big government politicians?

    Whatever happened to the old adage "follow the money?" Who in our media or journalist-pundit class is willing to give up the ratings gold of raucous town hall meetings to investigate where our money is going?

    How much of that $7,290 per person in the US goes to exorbitant CEO salaries? How much goes to lobbyist funding to deregulate the insurance industry? How much is waste and fraud? How much of that money is actual medical treatment?

    This is America, the greatest nation with the best health care in the world. I know, because my TV tells me so. But something is not right here. Something is off.

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