An Issue of Health Care
As an American citizen that is now living in Canada, I am privilege to seeing two different health care systems that are often compared to one another. While both systems (actually every system) have their flaws, one runs much more efficiently than the other. Several weeks ago I posted Canadian Monthly Premiums for Health Insurance, and as anyone can see, those premiums are very affordable and they are indexed based on income.
The cost of health care in the U.S. is staggering and only getting worse. From KaiserEdu.org:
Since 2001, employer-sponsored health coverage for family premiums have increased by 113%, placing increasing cost burdens on employers and workers.
Also from Kaiser:
Health expenditures in the United States neared $2.6 trillion in 2010, over ten times the $256 billion spent in 1980.
Okay, so we know that health care costs are skyrocketing. Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times discussing a documentary called The Waiting Room. The article has a short video clip that focuses primarily on waiting times in America’s emergency rooms.
These waiting rooms are where most of the uninsured (40+ million citizens) go to get any health care at all. There are extremely long wait times and the un or under-insured are not privilege to any type of preventative care. They are seen only when their circumstances become dire. How does this happen in the wealthiest country in the world? Are these people not worthy of good health care?
You are never denied health care in Canada. You go to the doctor (yes, you can get in the same day), you get your care, you go home. There is no bill that follows you. There are no deductibles. There are no co-pays…no 80/20 splits of any kind. You pay your monthly premium and that is it. Oh yes, taxes are higher here, but when you ask Canadians about government spending and proposed cuts to health care, they will always fight any cuts. It is not a political issue at all.
So what is the cost per capita for health care? The following list is from OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development):
|15||Australia||3,445 (2008)||8.7 (2008)|
|20||Japan||2,878 (2008)||8.5 (2008)|
|21||Greece||2,724 (2007)||9.6 (2007)|
|23||Portugal||2,508 (2008)||10.1 (2008)|
|33||Turkey||902 (2008)||6.1 (2008)|
As you can clearly see, the United States spending per capita is nearly double that of Canada. The other staggering figure is the total health cost as a percentage of GDP, over 17%! So where does the American health care dollar go?
Data from KaiserEdu.org.
The U.S. health care system is broken. Americans must buy insurance for their vehicles, but not for health care. It doesn’t make sense. A government run system will work (it does work – ask ANY other industrialized, developed nation in the world). I applaud Obama for pushing so hard on this particular issue. The obstacles to establishing a health care system for all citizens are not ones that are insurmountable. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will see the bigger picture when deciding the fate of the Affordable Health Care Act. The United States of America needs to start spending their money on health care and education (a topic for another post and very near and dear to my heart), and stop spending it trying to bomb and build nations overseas. The citizens of the United States deserve much better than the government is giving them.