Sunday, October 18, 2015

What’s Wrong with American Health Care

What ‘s wrong with American health care? It's simply this. We can’t afford the care most of us – liberals, conservatives, independents, and everybody in-between – think we need and deserve.

Health care costs too much – for government, individuals, employers, the employed and unemployed, the insured and uninsured.

If you doubt me, consider the implications of these 10 article headlines in yesterday’s Kaiser Health News. All articles concern costs and unaffordability of care.

1. Medicaid Spending Rises 14% as Health Law Expands Eligibility

2. Nearly A Third of Medicare Beneficiaries Face Steep Premium Increases

3. Remaining Uninsured Worry about Costs of Coverage

4. Medicaid Spending Soars – Mostly in Expansion States

5. Don’t Just Renew Your Medicare Plan: Shop Around

6. A Looming Tax on High-End Health Plans Draws Fire from Many Sides

7. Medical Prices High in Areas Where Large Doctor Groups Dominate

8. Chronically Ill Pay More in ObamaCare Plans Than Employer Coverage

9. Insurers Find Out-of-Network Bills As much as 1400 Percent Higher

10. Buyer Beware: A Mammogram Prices Vary by Nearly $1000.

For these cost, spend, and unaffordability dilemmas, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Some blame the interconnected world economy. Liberals blame the unfairness of market-based capitalism. Conservatives blame high taxes, onerous regulations, and misguided monetary policy.

The public blames government. In 1964, 77% of Americans trusted government to do the right thing, Today only 22% trust government to do the right thing. Between 200 and 2015, favorability ratings of Congress went down 18%, the presidency by 16%, and the Supreme Court by 17%.

Whose is to blame? According to Jay Cost, A Weekly Standard writer writing in “Politics of Distrust” (October 17-18, WSJ), the answer is none of the above. The answer lies in an anemic American economy, which has expanded at only a 1.7% rate since 2000 compared to 3.7% in the previous post World War II era. In short, it’s the economy, stupid!

The result? No wage increases for the middle class, 94 million Americans not working, 64% of Americans not participating in work force, high poverty rates, unaffordable health premiums, a record national debt, loss of faith in government and other U.S, institutions, dismissal of experts and politicians, and the sense among over 60% of Americans that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The solution? It is neither Republican nor Democrat. It is resumption of the 3.7% economic growth rate between 1945 and 2000. It is consensus policies and leadership promoting that growth and making health care affordable again. It is a renewal in faith in the future and in the American dream of fairness and opportunity afforded by a healthy economy.

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