We may not be aware of this stealth $6,500 health care tax, but if you take a moment to think, it makes sense. Over the last 20 years, health costs have soared, and incomes have grown painfully slowly. The two trends are directly connected: employers had to spend more money on benefits, leaving less for raises.
In exchange for the $6,500 tax, we receive many things. We get cutting-edge research and heroic surgeries. But we also get fabulous amounts of waste — bureaucratic and medical.
One thing we don’t get is better health than other rich countries, whether it’s Canada, France, Japan or many others. In some categories, like emergency room care, this country seems to do better. In others, like chronic-disease care, it seems to do worse. “The fact that we spend all this money and don’t have better outcomes than other countries is a sign of how poorly we’re doing,” says Dr. Alan Garber of Stanford University. “We should be doing way better.”
Also, Obama is to give an address/press conference this evening on health care reform. I may even watch it.
A side-drama to this battle that's interesting to me is the opposition Obama is getting from some within his own party who are frustrated because, according to this article, they can't get a firm sense of where he stands.
The Clinton health care reform ran into resistance from within their party also, with a Democratic senator from Tennessee doing his best not only to derail their health care reform plan but also trashing Hillary personally. When she first appeared before Congress to present the plan, her press was great. Everyone was impressed by her intelligence, her articulateness, her command of information. But the image of the competent, intelligent Hillary was replaced almost overnight by the image of Hillary as Lady Macbeth. (Several major insurers have their home offices in Nashville and are major contributors to Tennessee politicians. He was defending his major benefactor.)
So something to keep in mind as we read the debates on health care is how governance in the U.S. has become thoroughly corrupted because of the exorbitant cost of winning and remaining in office. Politicians in BOTH parties are for sale to the highest bidders. This means far too many will support policies that actually harm average citizens if those policies benefit the industries that bankroll their political careers.
But it's also interesting to look at this as a defining moment of the Obama presidency. Where will he draw the line? What is non-negotiable? We'll learn more about him from how he handles this.
Edited by Spectacles, 22 July 2009 - 11:03 AM.