TL;DR The average OECD country pays less than 4K per person on all healthcare expenses. Our taxes pay 6K per person right now in the US. We pay 3-4K more (OECD average) out of pocket. We are in the bottom 20% for care. If that isn’t outrageous enough, now the GOP is asking for 13K Maximim Out of Pocket (MOOP) for insurance companies. Why aren’t the pitchforks out?
Medical associations and citizen activists have been lobbying our legislators on behalf of patients and patient care this legislative session, trying to make sure their input is considered by those crafting health legislation so they will make sensible changes that benefit all Americans. The CBO projected that the last Senate bill was going to leave 22 million more Americans without healthcare coverage. The latest version does, as well.
While there are people on the right, such as Tara O’Neill Hayes arguing that that number is inaccurate, I have as yet to see one of these people consider how having pre-existing conditions would have otherwise prohibited these newly enrolled constituents from obtaining the policies they now have. The GOP’s BRCA options have all opened up pre-existing conditions as a new way for insurers to gouge their enrollees. Even when O’Neill Hayes argues that some young people covered until the age of 26 by their parents’ plans would have obtained insurance at their new places of employment, unless the new employer is offering equivalent, or better, coverage that they’ve rejected, the likelihood is those young people stay on their parents’ policies because they provide better coverages, and they are still benefitting from the policy options available to them as the result of the ACA policies.
Considering the fact that Americans pay more than nearly every other country on earth for healthcare, you’d think we would be getting the highest quality of care available, or close to it. Amazingly, nothing could be further from the truth, “The US ranks 28th, below almost all other rich countries [28 of 35], when it comes to the quality of its healthcare assessed by UN parameters.” We are in the bottom 20% of all industrialized nations for quality of care while paying more than everyone else. We come dead last in the top 11 wealthiest countries.
Here’s another way to look at the aggregate data:
In 2015, the most current year for accurate data on costs per person, the United States spent $9,507 per person for healthcare, the total of all public and private money spent. Something that may come as a complete shock to most Americans is that our government is already paying close to 2/3 of that cost, and is on track to increase to “67.1% in 2024.”
How many people realize that even without a national healthcare system, our taxes are already paying about 2/3 of the total amount spent on medical coverage in the United States?
If we take those numbers and estimate using 2015 data, the US government is spending approximately $6,338 per every man, woman, and child in the United states right now, today.
Now, that may not seem like a lot. That means we all should be paying around an additional $3,000 per person per year for our care, right?
Well…not so fast. If you consider that the United States spends “more than twice the average of other developed countries,” and our quality of care is in the bottom 20% of countries in the developed world, we have to recognize that we have serious and costly flaws in our current healthcare system. Looking at 2015 data again, the average cost per person for healthcare in all OECD countries works out to $3,727.
Think about this—what this means is that while we are in the bottom 20% for care, we are paying the most for it, which is $5,780 per person more than everyone else on average. Not only this, the money we pay in taxes is already $2,053 more per person than the average OECD country, where healthcare costs are covered 100% at that point—and we wind up owing so much afterwards on an individual basis that 26% of Americans state they are in trouble financially due to the costs of their medical care as documented in a prior post.
Our medical system is a fiscal disaster.
What is the GOP’s answer? Give us policies with $13,000 per person deductibles—more than quadruple what the average OECD country pays total per person so that they get a much higher quality of consistent, deductible free care!
The reality is the GOP is not fixing our healthcare system. Instead, all they are doing is creating policy designed to fleece the American public rather than doing what all Americans want—rework our healthcare policy so that it provides the quality of care that we pay for and no longer empties our wallets and leaves us struggling to pay our medical bills at the end of the day.
Our legislators have stopped listening to the needs of their constituents and have forgotten why they are in office. In response to the unprecedented rage expressed by voters shortly after the election, the GOP Senate Majority, Mitch McConnell, loftily proclaimed, “Winners make policy, losers go home.”
Every citizen in America should right now be calling their Senators, McConnell’s phone lines, and the White House to let them know that fleecing the American public as a form of healthcare policy is unacceptable under any circumstance and that if they are going to make healthcare policy, it had better be policy that delivers in regards to reduced waste, removing the insurance middlemen, and reducing our costs, or they should keep their money grubbing fingers away from our healthcare.
As we move forward, do not assume we are safe from the Republicans mangling the system we fought so hard to build 8 years ago. McConnell and Trump are only getting more desperate with each failed attempt to deliver an alternative, and rather than responding to their failed policy attempts by making better policy, they only have delivered less satisfactory options over time.
Keep calling, keep writing, and keep these GOP leaders under a microscope until we vote them out, as they are now desperate and only likely to engage in desperate measures at this late stage in the game.
Additional suggested reading:
Focus on Health Spending: OECD Health Statistics 2015 (report in 2015 on 2013 data)