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As noted by the Los Angeles Times, Americans spent 17.3% of our GDP on health care in 2009, up from 16.2% in 2008.  That's about 2.5 trillion dollars, which works out to about $8000 for each man, woman and child in the United States.

Even the most spendthrift industrialized nations of the world other than our own spend far less than this -- no more than about $5000 per capita, and in some places significantly less.

If the US were to merely spend just the exhorbitant amount these spendthrift countries splurge on health care (not even thinking about the more frugal ones), the United States would save almost $1,000,000,000 a year; that's 1 trillion, 10**12, or for those less numerate, a whopping high pile of hundred dollar bills.

If you had a trillion dollars, what would you do with it?  Sure, sure, you might feed the world's hungry or provide vaccines to all of humanity, or maybe you'd just feel like throwing a really big party aboard the 200 aircraft carriers you could buy.  

But I'll bet you didn't know that you could

  • Purchase the entirety of Africa's goods and services for a year. (1)
  • Give every teacher in the US a $150,000 raise. (2)
  • Lay down 45,000 miles of high speed rail. (3)
  • Pay the interest on the federal debt for 2014 and 2015. (4), OR
  • Outfit Sarah Palin for her next 4,000,000 campaigns. (5)

I'm just sayin'.

References: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Originally posted to jpmassar on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 05:36 PM PST.

Poll

If I had a trillion dollars, I would buy

13%4 votes
3%1 votes
0%0 votes
23%7 votes
60%18 votes

| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  HCR legislation would stack those bills... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, dancewater, jpmassar

    even higher.   I just wrote a diary that refutes two central claims of the bill by Democrats, specifically Al Franken's diary that was on the rec list for several days.

    It's disturbing because its true.  The Democrats, our party, was close to pushing this bill through, and only then would the misrepresentation be disclosed.

    HCR, It's worse than you think it is!

    •  Ya but Al Franken (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jpmassar

      has a thorough understanding of health care legistlation and has thought things through.

      He now suggests Pledge and Pass.

      "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

      by ban nock on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 05:58:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why don't you actually try addressing what (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Marie, jpmassar

        I wrote.  I gave a link to Franken's diary, and then a link to the summary and the actual law.

        If you like Franken and don't want to analyse this disjuncture, either to say that he made an error or that it doesn't matter that the people on this site are misled, then that is your choice.

        But to say he has a thorough understanding of health care legislation and has thought things through. Is not consistent with what I have presented.

        You have responsibilities as a citizen that transcend being loyal to someone of the party of your choice.  That is the stuff of right wing crazies who march in lockstep.

        •  I've read the diary you linked to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jpmassar

           

          twice

          Franken really does know what he's talking about, and I was trying to be kind by leaving out what would normaly be the second part of that sentence.

          "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

          by ban nock on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 08:13:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I believe you are wrong about your 2nd point (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      I am looking at the Senate Health Care bill.

      The original bill has the clause you so strenuously (and correctly) object to:  the restriction on rebates to premium holders for insurance company revenues exceeding 75%- 80% terminated as of Dec 31, 2013.

      But the Manager's Amendment, which is the actual bill that got passed by the Senate, changes the percents to 80%-85% and has not termination date that I can find.

      If you have the text of the bill, look for the two occurrences of the text 'provide value for'.  The first is on page 35, the second is on page 2041.

      It's very confusing, but I think I'm right.

  •  We spend so much because we can (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, jpmassar

    Remember all that cost curve baloney?

    If you didn't know how much your employer paid for your insurance, and the insurance company gets the premium no matter what, and the hospital and doctor can charge anything they want. Well, things are going to get expensive.

    Some plans cost ten or twenty thousand a year! They are called "cadillac plans" but if you try to rein in costs people are liable to roast you on a spit.

    "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

    by ban nock on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 05:53:03 PM PST

    •  Yes, Obama's "bending the cost curve" (0+ / 0-)

      blather convinced me that he truly has no knowledge or flair for economics.

      "Dulled conscience, irresponsibility, and ruthless self-interest already reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of disaster!" FDR - 1937

      by Marie on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 07:55:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I assume you're joking (0+ / 0-)

        But I can't tell so I'll carry on as if you're not.

        Pretty much any economist of health care pointy head is going to tell you that there has to be downward pressure on costs. Our system isn't set up to just transform into socialism overnight so we have to use other methods.

        You have to push the insurance companies to stop upping the premiums, because they won't have customers. Stop the docs and hospitals from charging so much because the insurance companies won't reimburse. Stop the drug companies from charging so much because insurance won't pay.

        So ya, once prices get pushed that straight line bends to the R, or maybe even down.

        "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

        by ban nock on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 08:11:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Insurance can't do that. Nor can (0+ / 0-)

          price controls (reduced reimbursement rates).  And we know exactly how popular those coverage denials are with the providers and patients.

          There is no point of attack to "bend the cost curve" in the for profit, fee-for-service US health care system.  All the tools to do that have been tried and failed.  (And costs are rising as fast in MA with it's Commonwealth care as they are in rest of the country.)

          It's the system and not any one element in it that cannot be contained.

          "Dulled conscience, irresponsibility, and ruthless self-interest already reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of disaster!" FDR - 1937

          by Marie on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 08:20:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  MA has no cost controls (0+ / 0-)

            two good ways were the board of docs to determine what is best practices for a lot of situations, and excise taxes.

            Tax free money can't be understated. I pay over 15% on every employee before we even talk about income tax. If I were paying (and getting) a whopper of a  wage we'd all be avoiding taxes with an expensive Health Insurance Plan.

            Also Medicare with it's mandated costs for every procedure. I gues in Japan they set all rates very low.

            "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

            by ban nock on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 08:30:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  That's the elephant in the room (0+ / 0-)

    that nobody wants to talk about much less actually deal with.

    But it's sort of worse than you've laid out: Why do American taxpayers buy UCH and don't mind that their government doesn't deliver it?

    "Dulled conscience, irresponsibility, and ruthless self-interest already reappear. Such symptoms of prosperity may become portents of disaster!" FDR - 1937

    by Marie on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 08:12:02 PM PST

  •  We the insurees -- bingo! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, jpmassar

    If you didn't know how much your employer paid for your insurance, and the insurance company gets the premium no matter what, and the hospital and doctor can charge anything they want. Well, things are going to get expensive. (ban nock)

    Important statement and almost correct except, while hospitals and doctors can charge anything they want, they don't always get paid by the insurance companies what they charge. Docs and hospitals are almost always the ones who absorb cost cuts (by the insurance companies) while insurance companies seldom if ever get their premiums cut. In fact they often renege on their commitment for coverage by not covering or chopping coverage to ribbons and raising premiums, deductibes and copays willy nilly.

    It's a one sided see-saw and we the insurees are left legs dangling up in the air.

    There are two components in ban nock's loaded paragraph: 1) Our own ignorance about what our employer pays (in many but not all cases) for our insurance coverage and 2) What insurance companies get paid in premiums that are by and large not controlled. That amounts to a face-off between us and the insurance companies in which we (by and large) choose to be passive and indifferent. We're not paying attention. So it's not hard to see why we (and our employers) are being eaten alive by insurance companies. If we were more awake and active about these issues from the word go, we might not (as a matter of raw political pressure) have let Obama and Baucus and other Dems talk us into taking single payer off the table and then taking a meager compromise for SP (the public option) off the Senate table. We might not have slithered away from a strong position standing up to health insurance companies, to say to them "You've had your run for a couple of generations and your profits and waste are too expensive and inefficient and not useful to us anymore. We're going to insure ourselves and bring in single payer."

    In regard to far more economical single payer, please don't come back with the false shiboleth, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." That's a distraction to get us off track because it pretends the current commercial proposal is "good" or even acceptable despite being based on a massively inefficient and unfair private health insurance industry devoted to maximizing profit for its own sake rather than single payer's medical rather than corporate decision-making. SP uses reasonable fee schedules agreed upon by not-for-profit professional entities to safeguard against sharp increases in physician and equipment costs. The SP system benefits from the largest possible risk pool and the largest possible money pool to keep costs down (see the CA single payer bill SB 810 for how it works).

    The key to ban nock's paragraph is the role of employees and the insurees -- us -- and our becoming more aware and responsible for our insurance. When we do that, we will likely take a closer political look at single payer for its cost savings and consumer protections and take our lives into our own hands. We can self-insure, we don't need the expensive middle man. The latter portion washes over to "corrupt" the media, too, by creating a conflict of interest in media coverage of the HCR debate.

    But SP (or even a hybrid plan with very robust public option available to everyone) is not politically easy to achieve, so maybe step one is to require employers to provide a detailed breakdown of exactly what the insurance companies are charging them to cover employees (and history of premium increases and benefit decreases over the past 5 or 10 years). After the screams have died down, maybe we'll get some political action from "we the insurees."

    •  I'd go even further and suggest we could save (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jpmassar

      a heck of a lot more by bringing the socialism everyone is crying about.

      But.

      We have to take only the biggest bite we can get our teeth into with ease.

      The way this thing was gamed out was the insurance companies were the ones who were going to get screwed. Docs and Pharma were bought off.

      It didn't work out. So insurance companies were only going to get 25% screwed in the Senate bill. Insurance doesn't like it, but they like it better than the PO.

      I say take it and move on.

      If we keep getting beat on HCR it makes things harder to do. Also it does a lot of good for a lot of people.

      If you look at our docs and hospitals and pharma they all make much more than in other countries and they are going to be a lot harder to overcome than insurance. Pharma should be easy but they are so rich. Hospitals have lots of money and lots of employees.

      Time for sleep.

      "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

      by ban nock on Sat Feb 06, 2010 at 08:25:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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