If you live in Europe, you probably like to complain about your national health care system. I have no doubt you have a lot to complain about. But you could live in the US, be over 65 and have to contend with the new government sponsored (but privately administered) prescription drug plan.
Anne and her husband Dixie, both in their 70s, got frazzled trying to work their way through the maddening maze of George W’s new prescription drug program, which compels seniors to choose among 1,400 competing drug-insurance schemes offered by 80 corporations. Each plan in this baffling “marketplace” offers different coverage, is frustratingly complex and is filled with fine print. The [couple] had to call on their son to help them select a company to cover their meds.
But — oops! — even with hands-on help, Anne and Dixie made a bad choice that almost cost them their entire medical coverage. They rushed to drop that plan and were lucky to find another at the last minute to avert a family disaster. (Hightower Lowdown)
There are two details about this story I haven’t told you yet. Dixie made his fortune in the insurance business. And their helpful son is Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, whose department oversees the $1.2 trillion giveaway to Big Pharma.
It is true that the US has an outstanding health care system, but outstanding in the sense it is the most expensive in the world — by a factor of two: $6300/person/year compared to $2300 in the other industrialized nations, according to Hightower’s figures. WHO ranks us 37th in the world in quality of care. Whatever the exact numbers for expenditures and quality, we are far in excess in one and far down the list in the other.
The data are in. If you compare national health systems to the totally private system of the US on almost any measure except profligacy and wastage, national health systems are superior. It’s not even close. The US is just about the last industrialized nation in the world without a national health system, and our economy suffers for it. The worker health insurance cost embodied in an American car is six times the health care costs in a Japanese car. That’s about $1000 price advantage for the Japanese automakers. Automakers are not alone. Every business in America suffers similarly.
We already have socialized medicine in this country. We’ve socialized the costs but kept the profits private. I wonder who benefits from that?