Response to a National Report of Healthcare in the US posted by Louis Fors Hill

by Tor Dahl

There are millions of people who have never been aware of the fact that pre-existing conditions often excluded people from affordable coverage before Obamacare. Furthermore, at that time insurance companies could cancel insurance at will, set limits on yearly and lifetime reimbursements for individuals, and did not offer free family coverage up to 26 years of age for dependents.

Internationally, the US ranked 39th among industrial countries (ahead of Slovenia but behind Costa Rica). Currently Hong Kong enjoys the highest life expectancy in the world, with a health care cost less than 5 per cent of GDP. The US is also the most expensive provider of health care in the world, and refuses to let Medicare negotiate prices for medications for Medicare, where the same medications may cost ten times as much as in other countries. This rewards Big Pharma with the highest profit rate of any sector in the US economy.

Let us also mention that 600,000 people go bankrupt every year for being sued for unaffordable health care bills. Most of the complaints about Obamacare relate to a unanimous Republican House of Congress opposing the Public Option, the most common way of paying for healthcare in other countries. The main reason that was stated was that it would be "socialized medicine"--i.e. funded in the same way we pay for Medicare, the most successful insurance in America. If the House wanted private sector insurance, they could have looked to Switzerland or the Netherlands for well run health sectors with far better records on outcomes and costs than what the US private sector can offer.

This is not rocket science. The VA still delivers better outcomes for lower cost than any other health system in the US despite what you might hear from politicians, and has done so ever since the VA reforms that were implemented in the nineties. Congress used every trick in the book to under fund the VA despite the obvious needs of returning veterans.

If you calculated the trends for health care costs before Obamacare you would have been shocked to see where these seemingly inexorable trends would take you. The trends pointed to 2065 as the year where healthcare costs would exceed the entire US Gross National Product. This absurd finding nevertheless pointed to a catastrophic breakdown of a system that already had reached near 20% of US GDP. It lay the basis for the worst recession since the Great Depression when many Americans borrowed money to meet the costs for two expense categories no family would ever skimp on: Health and Education, the two sectors with NEGATIVE productivity "improvement". These two sectors had driven up costs that could only be financed by increased loans or savings, and housing was the main asset most people had to offer. Hense the housing bubble, and when it burst, Congress decided to bail out banks rather than people. And when Obama became President, he was offered only a fraction of the stimulus needed to fund a strong recovery.

I read the much longer report about how people felt about the health sector (And thank you, Louis, for posting it!), and I decided to write a much shorter summary of what the bigger picture was for the health sector in the US. Obamacare only benefits less than 10% of people directly, but EVERYONE benefits for the assurances mandated by the Affordable Care Act, preventive care offered by all insurance policies is already having a strong and growing effect on health, and no one will suffer from denial of care for pre--existing conditions.

However, even though the Republican House has tried to abolish Obamacare dozens of times it has yet to produce an alternative. I consider that to be both the height of irresponsibility and a seeming inability to govern.