BY FRANK BELCASTRO
Suppose that people in the United States paid twice as much for their cars as people in Canada, Germany, and every other wealthy country. Economists would no doubt be pointing out the enormous amount of waste in the U.S. auto industry. They would insist that we both take advantage of the lower cost cars available elsewhere and take steps to make our own industry more efficient.
For some reason, economists do not have the same attitude towards health care. They are not bothered by the fact that we spend more than twice as much per person as people in other countries, with no obvious benefit in terms of health care outcomes.
This lack of concern is especially striking since health care is a far larger share of the U.S. economy than autos, comprising 17% of total output, as compared to about 3% for autos.
The excess health care spending comes to more than $1.2 trillion a year or the equivalent of more than $16,000 for every family of four. This is a criminal waste since one-third represents insurance industry profits and the other third represents excess paperwork plus denial of care to the sick.
The health care industry has spent $134 million on lobbying this year to keep its profits high and public health in the shadows. And it has offered to police itself. How can we expect an industry that profits from disease and sickness to police itself? We can’t.
The single-payer health plan will cut costs in half. Better tell your congresspersons that because the insurance industry already has their ear.
– Frank P. Belcastro lives in Dubuque, IA and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer