Health care costs rose again in 2003. Slower than 2002, but no where close to resting. We’re now up to $1.7 TRILLION and counting, up 7.8 since last year. And a Brookings Institution health economist said federal taxes would “have to jump by as much as 50 percent” if we keep up the current pace of spending.
But don’t worry. There’s hope in business. As some speakers concluded at a health care costs panel in Palm Beach, business will wake up at some point, realize that they’re simply making a poor economic decision by supporting the current health care system. With each rise in health care costs, the US becomes less and less competitive for work and jobs, as the economy becomes more global. Canada’s big three automakers–Ford, GM, and Daimler-Chrysler–all support Canada’s national health insurance system. Why? Because, simply, it saves them money. More cars are now made in Ontario than in Detroit, and it’s because the auto manufacturers realize it’s much cheaper across the border, and better for their bottom line. Ford now pays more for its employees’ health insurance than it does for its steel for its cars. From the CAW site:
bq(quote).. Workers in the auto industry, and in the many manufacturing and service industries which supply automakers, benefit directly from access to public health care services. Thanks to this system, they are healthier and more productive. Employers in the auto industry, meanwhile, enjoy significant total labour cost savings because most health care services are supplied through public programs (rather than through private insurance plans.)
The public health care system significantly reduces total labour costs for automobile manufacturing firms, compared to the cost of equivalent private insurance services purchased by U.S.-based automakers; these health insurance savings can amount to several dollars per hour of labour worked. Publicly funded health care thus accounts for a significant portion of Canada’s overall labour cost advantage in auto assembly, versus the U.S., which in turn has been a significant factor in maintaining and attracting new auto investment to Canada.