There are a lot of terrifying myths being floated by mostly Republican, extremist, bought-and-paid-for-by-insurance-companies types about the healthcare reform being discussed by the U.S. Congress. Actually, with that body being in recess, the whole country is now engaged first-hand through the town hall meetings being organized by its members with their constituents.
You’ve read, heard, and seen what is going on at these gatherings. The most extreme, or sometimes ill-informed, people, organized by anti-reform lobbying groups, are sent to disrupt these meetings. So, the strategy of the anti-reform forces is obvious—sow fear, confusion, and disruption, resulting in sure failure. This is much like the Turks’ denial campaign: just plant a seed of doubt and the dirty deed is as good as done.
You can get all this and more elsewhere. Here, I want to present and play with some numbers on this issue. Here goes.
The annual tab for healthcare in the U.S. is $2,500,000,000,000 (that’s two and a half trillion dollars).
We’re told the proposed plan will cost an extra $1 trillion over ten years. That’s a tenth of a trillion, or .1, trillion dollars per year. Remember, the Bush tax cuts for the rich, earlier this decade, cost the same trillion, and benefited very, very, very, very, very few people.
Currently, the private system in place has about 20 percent overhead (read profit and avoidable paperwork).
The U.S. has 47 million uninsured people. It turns out that only 31 million would benefit from the proposals floating around. Why? The remainder is undocumented aliens whom the plans won’t cover according to President Obama.
So this means that for only 4 percent more annually (.1 trillion divided by 2.5 trillion), we can cover 10 percent more of the country’s population (31 million divided by 307.2 million, the current U.S. population estimate). This seems like a bargain to me. In terms of real dollars, this means a cost to the country overall of $326 per person per year. Or, in other terms, each newly covered person costs $3226.
All these numbers seem pretty cheap to me for what we’d get in return: Far fewer emergency room visits (the most expensive kind of medical care) by people who wait until a condition is severe because they don’t have coverage. Better overall public health since communicable diseases would be checked and contagion would be less likely. Even the private sector benefits, since people would be able to have coverage independently of their workplace, reducing costs to employers/companies, many of which have problems competing with overseas firms because the latter’s countries do provide publicly funded healthcare. The 20 percent overhead is eliminated because publicly run programs have no need for profit, just like Medicare, which senior citizens are largely satisfied with. This public plan would provide competition to the private insurance that would still exist, making the latter more efficient; after all, that’s what the moneyed class always harangues us about: “competition breeds efficiency, it’s the capitalist
way, the market balances these things out.” With all this, no plan is perfect, this is planet Earth and its designers are human. But, it’s better by far than the current arrangement.
So why would anyone oppose this? Simple. They either stand to lose the boatloads of money they’re making at our expense, or they’re ill-informed and misled by their chosen sources of “trustworthy” information (Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin come to mind), or they’re simply extreme ideologues.
The vast majority of the population does not fit into any of these categories. The vast, overwhelming majority of the country’s people would benefit from healthcare reform. Remember Nataline Sarkissian (wasn’t that the result of a “death panel” provided courtesy of the much ballyhooed private medical insurance industry?) and decide accordingly. Then let your federal representatives know you support the healthcare reform principles espoused by Obama.