Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Health Care is expensive because it's free

Health care is sucking up 16% of GNP. That makes everything we buy, cars, food, fuel, clothes, houses, cost 16% more just to pay the workers health care. It makes American exports cost 16% more than our international competitors. It makes imports cheaper because no other country in the world pours 16% of GNP into health care. The rest of the world spends no more than 8% on health care. Public health in the other industrialized nations is every bit as good, and in many cases better, than in the US.
Why is US health care so expensive? Because health care providers charge as much as they want, and the patient never complains, because he has insurance. And the the health care providers do charge like crazy. A straight forward gall bladder removal cost as much as the house I had just bought. Which is ridiculous, an hour or two in the operating room and a few days in a hospital bed does not cost anywhere as much as a three story house. No problem, Blue Cross Blue Shield paid it all.
Most of us have insurance that pays for everything. So everything gets done, whether it needs to or not, and the bills go up and up and the insurance company pays them.
If we had to pay for health care out of our own pockets, a lot less money would go to health care.
Suppose nobody had health insurance? That would reduce the number of doctor visits, hospital stays, and the total share of GNP going to health care. Everything would cost less, and the average citizen would stay even.
Trouble with this is the catastrophic illness. Some things cost so much that no one can afford the bill. Even the unpadded bill. Suppose we buy insurance to cover real unpredictable catastrophes and pay the ordinary stuff out of pocket?
That would stimulate the economy far more than having Uncle Sam pay health insurance premiums for everyone.

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