Letters to the Editor

Healthcare costs in US must be lowered for economy’s sake

Part of the Republican Senate bill "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" with handwritten notes outlining changes is photographed in Washington. Republican tax legislation advancing toward final votes in Congress could undermine Obamacare health insurance markets, and add to the financial squeeze on Medicare over time.
Part of the Republican Senate bill "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" with handwritten notes outlining changes is photographed in Washington. Republican tax legislation advancing toward final votes in Congress could undermine Obamacare health insurance markets, and add to the financial squeeze on Medicare over time. AP

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Wages rise when the demand for labor exceeds the supply, not because of tax breaks for the wealthy. If we want to increase the demand for labor, we need to reduce the cost of production. The runaway cost of health care in the U.S. is a sea anchor for the rest of our economy.

We are ranked 37th for the quality of our healthcare system by the World Health Organization. In 1995, we spent 13.1 percent of our Gross National Product on health care. France, ranked No. 1 by WHO, spent 10.1 percent; by 2014, we spent 17.1 percent and France 11.5 percent. Our per capita cost in 2014 was $9,403, while France spent $4,959 per capita. Unless something changes, healthcare is expected to rise to 20 percent of GDP by 2020.

That 17.1 percent of the U.S. GDP in 2014 was $2.736 trillion spent on healthcare. If the U.S. had spent 11.5 percent of its GDP, like France in 2014, we would have saved $896 billion. The savings would have been distributed as follows: $367.36 billion to private insurers; $439.04 billion to Medicare, Medicaid and other government costs; $89.6 billion to out-of-pocket costs. These savings would reduce business, government and personal costs. When healthcare costs are lowered, insurance costs are also lowered.

France has universal healthcare, not single payer, but all citizens receive healthcare and no one goes bankrupt due to healthcare costs. With a 300-word limit, I can’t detail how we are being ripped off by the medical industrial complex. Suffice it to say, there is a lot that can be done to reduce costs and improve the quality of our healthcare system.

Ray Fusco

Bradenton

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