The Cost of Good Health (USA)

A couple of times a year I go all Network and think “I’m madder than hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. We all know something has to change, Right? But than nothing changes, except things seem to just get worse. A few more months go by and I get mad again.

We all know what the problem is – politicians – and I don’t mean Progressive Democrats or Conservative Republicans. I mean all of them!

Here’s things I found out with just a little research:

In 1977 Bill Clinton had the only job in his entire life outside of politics. He made $12,500 a year as an associate professor at the University of Arkansas. Hell, most of us made more than that. By 1979 Bill got into politics and he and his wife made a ton of money. Today Bill and Hillary are worth about 289 million dollars.

At the time of his death in 1994 Richard Nixon had a net worth of 5.7 million dollars. Before he joined the Eisenhower ticket his Senate income was $12,000* and his legal residence was in an average, middle class neighborhood in Alexandria just across the river from Washington.

At the time Nixon appointed Jerry Ford his Vice-President, Ford also lived in an average middle class neighborhood in Alexandria.

At the time Lyndon Johnson ran for Congress in 1938 he had been a school teacher, a congressional aide and a Texas bureaucrat. His salary as a Congressman was $10,000** The Johnsons built their fortune by buying a financial disaster radio station in Texas that was loosing money because expansion was hampered by the FCC. Shortly after his wife bought the station Lyndon used his political clout to get serious help from the FCC and also got a hard to get franchise from CBS.Their estate was worth 20 million dollars in 2007.

Over the past fifty years it appears that the political class has been more concerned with being paid, by any number of means, primarily because of their jobs. The best way to get re-elected is to actually avoid finding solutions to America’s problems (the powerful and connected prefer the status quo).

Over the past twenty five years – what are the biggest problems facing America’s future?

Social Security
Congress has NOT been wrestling with solving the problem of Social Security going broke for a few decades. Here’s a fact; if you remove the earning cap so every dollar of wages and earned income pays SS and raise the retirement age by two years gradually over 5 years, the problem is solved for as far as you can project.

Health Care for Americans
Adjusted for inflation, our current cost of medical insurance and healthcare is the most expensive in history. Over one third of all Americans receive most of their health care at government expense and over half still get insurance through their employers (even though that is costing 87% more than 10 years ago). The number of uninsured has gone down by 77% in ten years while the number of underinsured has gone up by 158%***.

Every political faction has a strong position about the costs and ways of providing health care to Americans and nobody can reach an agreed solution. What they do however, is change the rules regularly, often making health care for Americans more expensive in the process. Here are the best current facts available at the end of 2018:

The country had an estimated population of 329,000,000 Americans with 19 out of every 50 Americans receiving a significant amount of their health care at government expense. They include Medicare, Medicaid, Military, both active and retired with dependents, along with Veterans in the VA system. Americans spent $810,500,000,000 for health insurance through private insurance companies either with their employment, individually or in Medicare supplemental insurance. They paid out-of-pocket another $89,964,000,000 directly for healthcare as deductible costs or outright payments.

The government actually disbursed $2,132,000,000,000 for medical care either through Medicaid, Medicare, ACA premium subsidies, the VA and the military health system plus Tri-Care (the military health insurance contract) payments. In the same year the U.S. Government took in $177,912,192,000 specifically for health care in required Medicare recipient premiums and payroll tax deductions. That means that the government takes in only 8.4% of what it spends earmarked for American healthcare. In what world does that math make sense?

If you do the math you will see that this shows $2,985,401,192,000 in total American medical costs with some estimates as high as $3,500,000,000,000 or $4,200,000,000,000. It also indicates that the Federal government is already paying between half and two thirds of all American’s medical costs.

For an additional $5,000 each for every remaining American, you will cover 100% of every American’s medical costs. That is half the total American average per person cost of medical care and significantly less than the average privately insured American currently pays for insurance and healthcare.

If you think this doesn’t add up – that’s the whole point.

When politicians claim we cannot afford to give everyone universal healthcare are they aware that we already supply it to well over 1/3 of Americans?

When they claim that universal government healthcare will save money through efficiency are they aware that currently government cost for healthcare is almost 50% more per person than what private insurance and care costs, including out-of-pocket?

When politicians claim that we can’t afford to give everyone Medicare, are they aware that:
1. Medicare recipients pay monthly premiums?
2. Medicare has a co-pay requirement?
3. Medicare has a supplemental private insurance option?
4. That some Medicare supplemental private insurance has no associated fees?
5. That the most expensive age category for health care in America is people over 65?

Additionally, why does 21% of the population on Medicaid cost 577 billion dollars while 14% on Medicare (with a co-pay) cost the government 700 billion dollars?

* $12,000 in 1953 if adjusted for inflation would be $103,000 today. In 2018 a Senators salary was $174,000
** Adjusting for inflation $122,000 in 2018
*** Calculated on the base cost of insurance and the amount of out-of-pocket expenses as a relationship to household income.

Note: This information was gathered from dozens and dozens of sources. Often you will find a wide disagreement on actual numbers. For instance, the range for total American healthcare costs goes from 3.21 trillion dollars to 4.3 trillion dollars. By adding up all healthcare payouts I could identify, I came up with under 3 trillion dollars ($2,985,401,192,000). Some numbers are easy to find as the Social Security Administration provides detailed accounting annually while others are almost impossible, like insurance companies payouts, but one has to include that those payouts do not exceed total premium income.

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