Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Cost of NOT Having a Public Option

This diary at Daily Kos takes a look at the cost of NOT having a public option.

But what does it cost us to not have a public option?

Some of the costs of not having a public option are simple to calculate, but immeasurable in value. Infant mortality rates in the United States are 6.37 deaths/1,000 live births. A sampling of other industrialized nations with public health care finds the United Kingdom at 5.01 deaths / 1,000 live births. Canada at 4.63. France at 3.41. If the United States infant mortality matched that of the United Kingdom, just under 6,000 fewer infants would have died in the United States last year. If we could match France around 13,000 fewer infants would have died.

Let's move to the other end of the spectrum. As of 2009, life expectancy in the United States is 78.11 years. Which sounds pretty good, until you realize it puts us one slot above Albania. For the United Kingdom, this number is 79.01 years. For France it's 80.98. For Canada, 81.23. for the United States, that means about 270,000,000 years lost compared just to the slightly better numbers of the UK. 936,000,000 years lost compared to Canada. Want to stick a monetary value on it? Say that just a fourth of these Americans in their golden years are pulling down 20 hours a week and getting minimum wage to wave you into the local big box or bag your groceries. That's $442 billion worth of time lost compared to the UK. About $1.5 trillion lost if those workers had lived as long as Canadians.

There are good things to be said about the American system. When you're in an American hospital, a very good level of immediate care makes you more likely to survive the immediate aftermath of a health crisis. Just had a heart attack? Hug that cardiac care unit close and you're 20% more likely to hang around than your neighbor to the north. However, a low quality of long term and follow up care erodes that difference over the course of a year. Sorry.

But those are only a few of the direct effects of the cost of health care that's distributed by wealth rather than need. There are indirect effects that are equally dramatic.

Millions of Americans are in what's called "job lock." They can't leave their jobs because they feel they can't get the same health insurance benefits on their own or at the next job. A new poll by NPR News, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government shows that one out of four Americans has experienced job lock, in the last couple of years, or someone in their immediate family has. That's despite legislation enacted six years ago to deal with the problem.

Having health care that, for most Americans, continues to be directly tied to their employment has one very clear cost: it makes people less likely to voluntarily leave their current job. Sure, COBRA is now available, but the cost of continuing health insurance on your own is enough to make it of questionable value. The complex and highly variable nature of coverage makes it almost impossible for the average consumer to tell which, if any, insurance plan available to them represents a reasonable deal. Many Americans decide to stick with "the devil they know" rather than face rising costs, the uncertainty of acceptance, and the fear related to going it on your own.

Add to that a hidden tax of $1000 that people with insurance pay for those who do not have insurance.

1 comment:

jacksmith said...


The healthcare reform bill released by the House Of Representatives is an excellent bill as I understand it. It's a bill with a strong, robust, government-run public option, and an intelligent, reasonable initial funding plan to cover almost all of the American people. It is carefully written, and thoughtfully constructed, informed, prudent and wise. This bill will save trillions of dollars, and millions of your lives.

This is the type of bill that all Americans can feel good about. And this is the type of bill that has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans. Rich, middle class and poor a like. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and all other party affiliations. This bill has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life of every American.

The house healthcare bill should be viewed as the minimum GOLD STANDARD by which all other proposed healthcare legislation should be judged. All supporters of true high quality healthcare reform should now place all your support behind this healthcare reform bill released by the United States House Of Representatives, as the minimum Gold standard for healthcare reform in America.

You should all now support this bill with all your might, and all of your unrelenting tenacity. This healthcare bill is a VERY, VERY GOOD! bill for all of the American people. Fight tooth, and nail for every bit of this bill if you have too. Be aggressive, creative, and relentless for this bill.

From this time forward, go BIGGER and DEEPER with the American people every day until passage of healthcare reform with a robust, government-run public option.

FIGHT!! like your life and the lives of your loved ones depends on it. BECAUSE IT DOES!



God Bless You

Jack Smith — Working Class