Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Americans Spend More on Healthcare. So What?

A doctor who supports the monster healthcare "reform" package notes that Americans spend more on healthcare than other people. The following response says, "So What?"

The good doctor provides us with another example of picking statistics to fit ones mind set. The following statistics, pulled from a Wikipedia table, were found with the search "GDP by Sector". Americans spend .9% of their income on agricultural products, 20.4% on goods and 78.5% on services. Citizens of the European Union spend 2.1% on agricultural products, 27.3% on goods and 70.5% on services. Europe is not a bad place to live but, the average American is economically better off than the average European. Taking a look at places where you would probably not want to live, we find: the citizens of Sudan spend 35.5% of their income on agricultural products, 24.8% on goods and 39.7% on services, the people of Cameroon spend 45.2% on agricultural products, 16.1% on goods and 38.7% on services, and the people of Laos spend 43.4% on agricultural products, 30.6% on goods and 26% on services. Americans spend a much smaller portion...

... of their income on necessities and a much greater percentage of their income on education and sporting events. Is our ability to spend more on services the reason we should scrap our education system and replace it with the Sudanese system? How about our spending on sporting events. Should we scrap the NBA, the NFL and MLB for a government sponsored soccer league? The good doctor's statistics prove nothing more than Americans can afford to spend money on services that other people cannot afford. This is often hidden by health systems such as the one in the UK, where the more expensive services are rationed or not covered under the government plan. How many times will the same old talking points about the uninsured be used. In America, the well insured are over charged; in trade, providers are required or strongly encouraged to give a certain amount of free care to the needy. Those in the middle face the choice of paying too much for insurance or taking the risks involved with private pay. The laws of economics are at work. Over charge for a product or service and people will substitute other goods and services. The reason a great many of the non-insured are non-insured is because they chose private pay. My wife's knee surgery continues to be my favorite example. The initial total quote added to more than $35,000 but we negotiated a total price of $11,500. Had we been well insured, the doctors, hospital, anesthetist and physical therapist would have all made out well. Money, Americans willingly spend on expensive innovations, pushes technology forward. People of all income levels benefit from the occasional gem discovered. No doubt, our health care costs could be lowered. A dramatic decrease in liability insurance premiums would be a great place to start. The campaign donations trial lawyers make to our representatives are paid out of legal fees collected, the campaign donations liability insurance companies make to our representatives come out of the fees doctors pay. The doctors also contribute to campaign chests. Under this system, lawyers, doctors, representatives and insurance executives all do well. The people suffer. Among the suffering are those who are quite healthy but in constant fear that they will be bankrupted by future illness. Catastrophic coverage for all Americans is a reasonable and easily achievable goal. The cost of routine care can be easily lowered by granting the recipient of care the savings achieved and through tort reform. By keeping the reforms straight forward and simple, we can begin to solve the real problem. The level of corruption in Washington has plateaued at levels reached only a few times in the history of the world. Republicans and democrats feed off the system. We build bridges to nowhere, we buy F-22 Fighters that we don't need, we subsidize the production of polluting vehicles and we, arguably, fight wars that need not be fought. The collusion between business leaders and the congress constantly bubbles to the surface. The super wealthy contribute to both republican and democratic campaigns and collect favors from both. Goldman Sachs investors will make billions of dollars if the good doctors "reforms" are passed.