Putting the Health Crisis in Perspective
The most daunting challenge to our economy is health care spending.
This was confirmed by President Obama in his April 14th, 2009 speech at Georgetown University:
“…our long-term deficit is a major problem that we have to fix. But the fact is that this recovery plan represents only a TINY fraction of that long-term deficit…the key to dealing with our deficit and debt is to get a handle on out-of-control health care costs.”
Perhaps for the first time, Americans will begin to comprehend exactly how big of a health crisis we have and what a threat it poses to our economy, federal-state and local governments, industries- large and small, families, individuals, and even our national security.
Another article that appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine: The Big Takeover, may add needed perspective.
“The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That's $465,000 a minute, roughly $7,750 a second.”
That, admittedly, is a lot of money, and we are outraged that we have to pay for it!
But, in 2008 America spent $2.4 trillion dollars on health care. That is $600 billion per quarter. Following Rolling Stone’s math: that is $6.7 billion per day, $278 million every hour, $4.6 million a minute or $77,161 per second!
But wait, health care costs are projected to reach $4.3 trillion dollars by 2017, an astounding $138,890 per second!!
How can that be?
There are many reasons but it boils down to this: health care is a huge for-profit business having generated $2.4 trillion dollars in 2008 with projected 80% growth over the next 8 years to $4.3 trillion dollars. Heath care is now the largest sector of our economy and the most powerful political presence in Washington.
The medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industrial-complex is successfully marketing and selling sickness to an unlimited, expanding, willing, and increasingly sick population. From their perspective, there is nothing to ‘fix.’ In fact, like any other business, they are only looking to expand their market.
While a single-payer system may help by shedding some of the massive administrative costs and trimming waste, it will not solve the fundamental problem driving the costs: the never-ending growing market of sick people and their addiction to, and demand for, care.
(In my next blog entry I will offer some solutions to the Health Crisis)