Driving home from work, listening to NPR’s story about health care costs, I couldn’t help but be struck by a couple of numbers. The Obama health plan will cost a trillion dollars we’re told. A TRILLION sounds big enough to end the debate, doesn’t it?
Then I hear, almost as a footnote, that that trillion is over ten years. That’s still a big number to be sure. A hundred billion dollars a year.
But then later in the story, I hear that US total health care costs are $2.2 trillion a year. Suddenly, that $100 billion a year doesn’t sound so big. That’s only a 4.5% increase.
Doesn’t it strike you as just a bit odd that we accept those kinds of increases from our insurance companies every year as a routine cost increase, but balk at the amount when it is presented as an attempt to overhaul the system?
Meanwhile, we’re expected to believe that it’s impossible to find 4.5% worth of cost savings in the system? That’s also hard to believe.
In this economic downturn, a lot of companies (including my own) have had to cut our costs a whole lot more than that in order to balance the books. Any industry with the will do so can find that much in the way of waste, duplication of effort, and improved processes that lead to cost savings.
All of this adds up to me to a description of a medical system out of control, a system in which everyone, from doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies, is out to get as much as they can from the system, and no one is willing or able to compromise. It’s sad, a story of greed and small-mindedness.
Maybe I’m missing something – after all, I just got these numbers from a radio show – but if it really is only a 4.5% a year gap, it’s really sad that we as a nation aren’t able to find the backbone to expand coverage for everyone.