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Response to Autumn (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 03:04 AM

2. Here's a few numbers

Amount spent on the combination of Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance: aprox. $2.3 trillion annually and leaves 30-45 million uninsured.

NHS budget (in US dollars): Slightly over $2000 per citizen, per year. 0 uninsured.

Cost to cover entire US population under NHS model (disounting start-up costs): aprox. $600 billion.

Cost to cover entire US population under French model (accepted as world's best and disounting start-up costs): aprox. $900 billion.

Administrative overhead, private insurance: anything up to 30%

Administrative overhead, NHS: 6.8% (unionised staff with pensions and benefits)

There's also the fact that the insurance company is incentivised to reject your claim while the civil servant doesn't care either way, he gets paid the same regardless. Now, setting up a true, single-payer national healthcare program is a huge expense. But that expense means building hospitals and roads to connect them, buying ambulances and medical equipment with the knock-on effect in those industries, staffing those hospitals with not just doctors but nurses, receptionists, janitors, groundskeepers, maintenence staff, canteen staff and someone to run the newsstand. Yes, it's a lot of money but it satisfies Keynesian principles in that it actively creates jobs and puts money in people's pockets (construction at first, obviously). Those people then go out and spend that money, increasing demand and getting the whole system moving again. Plus, you get a shiney new healthcare system that you only have to pay the (quite modest) upkeep from then on. And the whole bloody mess of patchwork coverage and the drag on employers just disappears.

Now, don't misunderstand me. The NHS is by no means perfect and could be improved in several areas (although I don't trust our current government to do anything other than try and kill the old dear). But this is one area where the US coming to the game late could actually work to your advantage. Different nations have different ways of organising, administering and funding their healthcare systems. If the US is serious about true, universal, single-payer healthcare, it would be relatively easy to establish a commission to study the existing systems around the globe, taking the funding mechanism from this one and the drug approval mechanism from that one; mix-and-matching the best parts while avoiding those that don't work so well until you end up with something quite special and uniquely American.

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Arrow 3 replies Author Time Post
Autumn Apr 2012 OP
idwiyo Apr 2012 #1
LineNew Reply Here's a few numbers
Prophet 451 Apr 2012 #2
CAPHAVOC Apr 2012 #3
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