How bad is the situation with respect to uninsurance in this country? It’s an epidemic, and it’s getting worse fast.
The uninsured as a population may surprise you. Half of them are employed – working hard to make ends meet. One quarter of them are children. Another 20% comprise homemakers, retirees, and the disabled. Only 5% of the uninsured are “able-bodied” unemployed people.
One way to start is by trimming the fat. There’s a lot of fat to trim.
But we still need more money, and I’d be painting too rosy a picture if we didn’t at least talk about new taxes. Now I’m no economist, so I’m going to do some simple back-of-the envelope calculations. Many have suggested differing taxes of different amounts. Let’s take one example. A simple payroll tax of 3.5%. This would likely raise between $200 and $250 million dollars. Most will see this as a bargain because health insurance usually costs far more than 3.5% of one’s income.
With NHI, there would be none of these. Even if we increased the income tax for all, these new taxes would likely b less than these costs.
The last is a statement made by the President of the AMA concerning socialized financed health care. He called it “…the most deadly challenge ever faced by the medical profession.” What makes this hyperbole even more difficult to swallow is the fact that this was said in 1961… about Medicare. Are there any people today, politicians, elderly, doctors – anyone – who believes that Medicare is the most deadly challenge the medical profession has faced? Let’s not get caught on the wrong side of this issue again.
Universal Healthcare: Everybody In, Nobody Out David Green, D.O., F.A.C.N.
1. Forty-seven million people in the U.S. have no health insurance.
2. Fifty to seventy million people in the U.S. have inadequate health insurance (i.e., insurance that would leave them bankrupt in the event of a major illness). In fact, catastrophic illness in the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in the U.S. (source : Bob Lebow, Health Care Meltdown , 2002)
3. The corporate model for the organization of health care (i.e., Health care is a commodity instead of a public good.) creates barriers to access. Why?
A. Seventy five percent of health care expenditures in the U.S. are consumed by the 10% of the population with chronic illnesses-Source:Clancy. Himmelstein, and Woodhandler Physician for a National Health Program Newsletter . 11/92
B. In other words, health insurance companies (whether non-profit or for-profit) have a strong incentive to exclude people with chronic illnesses from their plans. If they are successful in doing so, they can improve their margins while simultaneously offering lower premiums to their healthy customers.
B. In the early 1980’s, California severely curtailed
its Medicaid program (Medical). A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared blood pressure and blood sugar control in hypertensive and diabetic patients who were dropped from the Medicaid rolls with a matched control group of patients who retained their Medicaid coverage. Result: The researchers reported a significant deterioration in blood pressure and blood sugar control in the patients who lost their insurance.
1. In 2006, the U.S. spent $2 trillion on health care-16% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world which spends more than 10% of GDP on health care. This is money that could otherwise be used for education, rebuilding economic infrastructure, research and development.
1. There are 1500 private health insurance companies in this country, each with its own administrative staff and paperwork. The Government Accounting Office (GAO-the investigative arm of Congress) has estimated that if the U.S. were to adopt a single-payer health insurance system, we could save in excess of $200 billion per year-enough to cover all those who are presently uninsured. (Source: Paul Krugman, New York Times , June 13, 2005)
In 1994, the average senior citizen with Medicare spent 21% of his or her income on medical bills not covered by Medicare (>2500). That figure is now >25% of income. This represents a >50% increase in the proportion of income spent for medical care since 1977-undermines the whole rationale behind Medicare.
A. The cost of prescription medications in the U.S. is almost twice as high as in Canada or most European countries. This is largely due to the ability of the single-payer to negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical industry.
2. In 1993, the pharmaceutical industry as a whole spent $1billion more on advertising and marketing than they spent on research and development.-The “Cheerleader Argument” (Source: The New York Times , November 28, 2005.)
3. For every 100 new drugs approved by the FDA each year, ½ are “me-too” drugs.
(Source: The New York Times , 1993.)
While drug firms have trumpeted their research innovations, they have developed few important new drugs in recent years. Indeed, drug stocks have slumped recently because investors fear that the pipeline of new drugs is largely empty. Among important new drugs that have been introduced in recent years, most were the products of either NIH-funded research, or were discovered at small firms and sold to the major drug firms at a late stage in their development. It appears that the evolving model of commercial domination of science, with many scientists and research universities scrambling to cut deals with drug firms, may be leading down a scientific dead end.
C. Despite the fact that TB claims>2 million lives each year (the most common cause of death due to infectious disease), and drug-resistant TB is becoming increasingly common, pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to invest the money required to bring new TB drugs to market. They claim that because most cases of TB occur in the Third World, they would be unable to recoup in profits what they would have to spend to bring the drugs to market. Once again, the market model of medicine fails both the test of reason and of conscience.