Thursday, August 6, 2009

Health Care Reform Forum Materials

The following was shared at the Health Care Reform Forum I moderated on Thursday, July 30 at the Ann Arbor District Library:

Health Care Issues/Problems Perceived

  • The nation’s 2009 annual health care bill: $2.5 trillion—$18 out of every $100 produced by the domestic economy (gross domestic product or GDP) - and is projected to go to one-third of GDP by 2030.
  • Projected health expenditures in 2018: $4.4 trillion—$1 out of every $5 produced domestically.
  • Health care cost for each man, woman and child: $8,050 in 2009; $12,104 in 2018 (adjusted for inflation).
  • Health‐related spending in the federal budget: $870 billion in 2009—21 percent of total spending—more than amounts projected for Social Security ($680 billion) or national defense ($645 billion, excluding defense health care costs).
  • The federal budget’s share of the national health care bill: 35 percent in 2009.
  • Health care’s rank within overall consumption: #1—Americans spend more for health care than for any other type of good or service including housing, food, or transportation. The health care industry is the third largest private employer after manufacturing and retail operations.
  • Compared with other industrialized nations, the United States spends the most per person but ranks at the bottom of health indicators including infant mortality rates and life expectancy at age 60.
  • 46 million people living in the United States did not have health insurance in 2007. Another 17 million may be underinsured. Those statistics point to inequities in access to and the affordability of health care. [Many of the uninsured use the emergency rooms which cannot turn them away and then don’t pay for the services, which results in the costs being shifted to those who can pay, or by the insurance companies which then tacks those costs onto the insurance premiums.]
  • The high rate of growth in annual health care spending strains public and private budgets. The excessive growth in costs also raises serious concerns about the efficiency and equity of the nation’s health care system. [The cost of health care to businesses creates a competitive disadvantage for domestic companies competing in the world market against companies in other countries where the such health care is unheard of or the government pays for it. The auto bailout relieves some of that disadvantage due to legacy costs from GM and Chrysler.]
  • According to opinion polls, more than four out of 10 Americans rate national health care quality as only “fair” or “poor,” and about twice as many— eight out of 10—are dissatisfied with the total cost of healthcare. Yet when it comes to their own health care experience, people are generally positive about its quality, and most report that they are satisfied with the amount they pay. [A major disconnect, due to the ones who pay for the services are not the ones who use the services, and it is a lot easier to spend someone else’s money than your own.]

Source: Health Care and the Federal Budget. This is a July 21, 2009 release from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget that is very informative (and sobering!). The content included in [ ]'s I added to the original work by the CRFB.

Conclusion: Most agree “something” must be done. The question is “what?”

Concerns About Proposed “Solutions”:

  • The plan enacted will not contain health care costs.
  • The costs of health care will increase, further increasing the federal budget deficit and national debt beyond what lenders (including foreign lenders) will be willing to finance, and if willing, only at interest rates that will stifle economic growth.
  • Taxes will have to increase.
  • I may not be able to see the doctor of my choice.
  • I will lose my current excellent insurance coverage.
  • A medical treatment needed to save the life of me, my loved ones or a friend may be denied through a rationing system.
  • People will be counseled near end of life to stop living.
  • Any public “option” will end up being the only option, limiting competition and innovation.
  • Access to personal medical records will be easier to access and be abused.
  • Illegal aliens will be covered.
  • Etc.

The forum was conducted using the National Issues Forum "deliberative dialogue" method. For more information, see

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