Would you mind having an extra $900 a year? (You’d also get another $900 per kid.) What is that–about the cost of a really nice vacation every year? Going to a great restaurant once a month? Several pairs of shoes, clothes, and diapers for a child?
Often people don’t realize that they have something to lose from this inefficient mess we call “The US Health Care System.” Even if they have health insurance. See, because every time that your employer’s health insurance premiums go up, that’s money that your employer can’t pay you as a raise. So all that raise that you’ve been wanting to get? Oh, you’re getting it–but it’s in the form of higher health insurance costs, not a fatter paycheck. (And you probably didn’t even spend more on health care this year than last, either.)
One of the things I really enjoy about Joe Paduda’s Managed Care Matters is that it reminds me of how much health care really costs. We spend over $5200 per person per year in the US on health care. The next closest count, Switzerland, spends about $1800 less than us. And the Swiss have lower rates of infant mortality and on average live longer than us.
Granted, these are not perfect comparisons–even if I’m half wrong–that the Swiss aren’t as health as us, and they’d need to spend $900 more a year to compare with us–that’s still $900 cheaper than the US. Imagine if every person in the US could receive the same health care, but had an extra $900 in their pocket. As a student, I’d be happy to have it. I heard on the radio last week a guest describing employers that pay the “minimum wage” are actually paying a “subsidized wage;” that is, the public is subsidizing the employer, since the employee is receiving social services (including health care) from a public, tax-funded hospital or clinic.
But because we hold on to this insane notion that our health care system is the best, or that health care reform is politically impossible, we sit here, being inefficient, wasting our own money away. Until people realize that people will get health care, no matter what their insurance status, we’ll continue to chug along in a wasteful system. We are blinded to the fact that providing health insurance, and therefore, preventive, primary care, is more cost effective, and saves us all money.