The Cost of Health Care in the United States

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger made the news in May, 2017 when they said that the cost of health care is the biggest concern for businesses in the United States. Buffett called healthcare spending “the tapeworm of American Economic competitiveness.”

Healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP has risen much faster in the United States than in other nations. We currently spend over 17% of our GDP on health care compared to an average of 9.9% worldwide.

Motley Fool points out that a majority of small businesses in the United States identify healthcare costs as their biggest problem. See https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/05/07/warren-buffett-healthcare-is-the-real-problem-for.aspx

The difference is that other industrialized nations have some form of a single payer system whether it is a purely socialized NHS as in the United Kingdom or a Medicare for All system as in Canada or Taiwan.

Numerous studies in the United States at the state and federal level have proven that single payer health systems are the most cost efficient. See this list of studies for more information: http://www.pnhp.org/facts/single-payer-system-cost

Often, people raise the concern about “rationing” when they hear of a single payer health system. All systems ration healthcare because like most things, there is a limited supply. Rationing in the United States is done in a cruel and very unusual way – care is rationed based on one’s ability to pay for care or to find a charity or to hold an effective fundraiser or to keep their income low so they qualify for Medicaid.

When countries change to single payer health systems, what they see is a shift in healthcare utilization so that there is less over-treatment and more access to treatment for those with unmet health needs.

Having a universal healthcare system that is based on health allows better health planning to make sure that we are meeting our healthcare needs in the most effective way possible with the resources that we have.

The United States is already spending enough money to provide high quality comprehensive health care to everyone. We have the resources to be one of the best healthcare systems in the world. Improving and expanding Medicare to everyone sets us on that path.

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