One of the key aspects of human efficiency is making decisions based on facts, data, and nonideological logic. This is a critical aspect of having an efficient government and political system. In this post, we will continue to look at the true story behind health care in the U.S.
With the U.S. being one of the only developed countries without a universal coverage health care system, having the lowest rated system out of 11 industrial countries studied by the Commonwealth Fund, and paying about twice of what everyone else pays for health insurance, coming up with a better system is an easy problem to correct. All we need to do is pick out the best system being used elsewhere and copy it.
Most of the best systems are in Europe. Each one is somewhat different. And picking any one of them would be an improvement over what we have.
- They all have 100% public health coverage.
- They are all ranked as being better than the U.S. in most categories and overall.
- They all pay about half of what we do – they average about $4,500 per person vs. our $8,500 (2013 data).
Looking into this, it was surprising to me how different the European systems are even though they all accomplish the same purpose.
- There are a lot of public and private combinations. France and the UK have a state-run portion and a private sector portion. France has both religious and social welfare hospitals and clinics.
- In Germany about 15% of people use private health insurance.
- Germany has about 130 state sickness funds from which people can select to provide coverage, with rates shown on-line.
- In Germany about a third of people are covered by social or local funds.
- The UK is ranked to have one of the best health care systems (actually four, one for each country in the UK).
- The National Health Service (NHS) in each country in the UK is a publicly funded healthcare system. It is administered by clinical commissioning groups (CCG’s).
The Europeans have unemployed and low income individuals just as the U.S. does and they make sure that everyone is covered in one way or the other but in an organized fashion. As was noted in a previous post, in the U.S. when the uninsured or under-insured get sick and require treatment, they get treated. However, here it is a chaotic system. In 2013, $84.9 billion in uninsured care was provided to uninsured individuals. And the inability to pay medical bills is the biggest reason for personal bankruptcies in the U.S.
In summary, there are quite a few reasons why we pay about double for our health care in the U.S. These include an inefficient system where fees are constantly being negotiated, bankruptcy costs, insurance company profits in the billions, higher drug prices, higher medical test prices, and higher physician fees.
One more very important point to discuss – detractors from universal coverage health care point out that the European countries pay much higher taxes then we do (they pay for many other things in their taxes) and that up to 45% of Americans pay no federal income tax (this number is based on tax returns filed and is probably not accurate. Many of these people do pay other taxes like Social Security taxes).
The point is that our health care costs could be cut in half compared to what we pay now no matter how we pay for it, taxes or otherwise. And regarding the uninsured and underinsured who require uncompensated care or file for bankruptcy to cover the costs they can’t pay, we pay for this now in the form of higher taxes and higher medical fees – these costs don’t just magically disappear. But we pay for it in an inefficient manner.
The goal of these posts is to educate everyone about what we are doing in this country regarding our health system. We can no longer allow ideology to make our decisions for us when facts and data prove that it is costing us so much more money. And we don’t need to develop our own system; all we need to do is copy the best system elsewhere.
Next: The Jobs Issue in the U.S.