Monday, August 29, 2011

Health Care...and Ultrarunning

Via Canadian Ian Welsh on 12 Aug 2011, Hard and Complicated Aren't Synonyms, where he brings to bear something sorely needed in the health care discussion: empirical facts.

See, stopping smoking isn't complicated. All you have to do is. not smoke. But it's hard as dickens, which is why so many people fail to do it.

Now a lot of US problems are like this and health care is one of them. The US spends about 16% of its GDP on healthcare, clocking in at 2 trillion. Changing to a single payor universal system will slash about a third of that. Savings: about 650 billion dollars. Everyone knows this who isn't paid not to know it - every other country in the world that has universal health care pays about a 1/3 or less than the US and when Canada switched, its costs dropped by a third.

This isn't complicated. But it is hard. It's hard for the same reason that quitting smoking is hard, or that losing weight is hard - that 650 billion dollars extra is something the US is addicted to. That money pays for jobs and profits at insurers, drug companies and to hospitals and to some doctors.

That's a lot of money, and the people who are currently making a living, or a huge profit from it, don't want to lose it. So they'll fight tooth and nail to not end the gravy train. The 20% to 30% administrative margins in health insurance companies as opposed to the 2% to 3% margins in Medicare are money that someone is getting. The price is that 50% of bankruptcies are caused by medical costs; that 43 million Americans are unemployed and that American companies like Ford and GM have huge medical costs that companies like Toyota don't have.

Ian's entire post is worth a read.

Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning?  Well, yesterday I had my annual physical and was pronounced fit.  While I realize that could--literally--change in a heartbeat, I already knew I was fit.  And I have no doubt that my fitness is due to the vice of Ultrarunning.


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