The argument over health care reform is heating up. Today, President Obama discussed the issue with the nation in support of his proposed reform plan. Arguments pro and con, factual and not, are furiously flying back and forth.
Why should we care?
Nothing is more important than your health. As the old saying goes, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got just about everything.” It may have been a Geritol ad, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Don’t you want to ensure that your health care needs will be met, especially in the event of a catastrophic illness?
Also, we’re talking about, for lack of a more expressive term, a whole shitload of money. You’re paying a lot more for health care than you may realize, even it you’re fairly healthy and have good insurance coverage. Let’s take a look at the numbers…
www.usgovernmentspending.com is a site that lets us play with government (federal, state, and local) budget numbers. Here’s a chart that shows the top four most expensive categories of government spending:
Since 2005, health care has been the most expensive single piece of the total pie. That’s worth repeating. More of your tax dollars go towards health care than anything else.
The cost of health care has gone from about 14.5% of the budget to 18.2% in just the last decade.
Remember, this is just government spending. This does not count your insurance premiums or your co-payments for doctor’s visits or medicines (assuming you have insurance), or any additional costs you may incur for uninsured treatments.
The New York Times estimated that each household currently spends about $15,000 per year (over $7500 per person) on health care, over twice (adjusted for inflation) what was spent 20 years ago. This is more than $6500 per household more than other first-world countries. Some of that $6500 may go towards better health care, but a lot of it certainly goes towards inefficiencies and profits for unnecessary middlemen.
This is an enormous amount of money. People’s livelihoods depend on this industry. Many of those people are rich and powerful and will do whatever they can to keep the gravy train rolling. But it’s your money, and more importantly, your health. You need to stay informed, and make sure that the politicans know that you’re watching and you care.