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Posted by on Jan 30, 2009 in Economy, Health, Politics | 2 comments

Health Care: Too Big to Fail

In the frenzy over jump-starting the economy, the House stimulus bill includes, among other straws being grasped, $117 billion of spending for health care, most of it to maintain coverage for the disabled and newly poor. Otherwise, the political consensus is that we can’t “afford” to reform the system.

If anything, there is a stronger case to be made that we can’t afford not to. Paul Krugman scratches the surface today with the argument that “helping families purchase health insurance as part of a universal coverage plan would be at least as effective a way of boosting the economy as the tax breaks that make up roughly a third of the stimulus plan–and it would have the added benefit of directly helping families get through the crisis, ending one of the major sources of Americans’ current anxiety.”

He cites research showing that Obama’s campaign promise of universal coverage would add “only” about $104 billion to federal spending next year, but this overlooks the huge possible benefits in reforming a system that rewards greed and inefficiency.

Start with health care fraud by hospitals, doctors, pharmacists and other care providers. which the FBI estimates at between $60 and $100 billion a year. Stopping that could be a small growth industry to employ some of the analysts being laid off by the banks and Wall Street, to say nothing of starting to fix a system that has been criminalizing the healing profession in order to let its members survive.

But the big payoff would be in transferring the estimated one-third of the $2.4 trillion-and-counting that goes for insurer overhead and profits into patient care.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Silhouette

    But wait! If we introduce government oversight and subsidizing/auditing of healthcare providers, then they cannot profit hugely from the demise of suffering people?

    Think of the JOBS we’ll lose of the people who now make a living exploiting the sick?


    (I like playing devil’s advocate now and then just for fun)

  • Dr J

    Ah yes! Let’s just “transfer” all that money insurers pocket for overhead into something else! I understand they keep it sitting around in large jugs, so it should be easy.

    Of course, that money isn’t sitting around at all, it’s lost to inefficiency–which is to say, it goes into the paychecks of too many people for doing things they shouldn’t be doing at all. And not just people at insurance companies, but also those in hospitals and doctors’ offices and medical supply companies and construction firms and a million other places.

    How can we weed out that inefficiency? I know it sounds like a hard job, but perhaps if we just pass a law that health care must become more efficient, a trillion dollars will show up in the mail.

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