Health-care cost trends in this country are unsustainable and are driving a whole range of major challenges, from our growing federal and state budget problems to the competitiveness of U.S. business in international markets to the decline in the economic power of the middle and working classes.
Take a look. The first chart, below, comes from a Kaiser Foundation report just released today. It found that health-insurance premiums had risen 113 percent between 2001 and 2011, and worker contributions to health insurance had risen by 131 percent. Family health-insurance premiums rose by 9 percent alone in 2011.
The second chart, based on the most recent data from the 34-nation Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, documents the disadvantage this country faces internationally. We do not, by most measures, have the world’s greatest health-care system, but we undoubtedly have the most expensive. These trends constitute a major “tax” on our nation’s productivity, competitiveness and quality of life.
The countries listed above are representative of trends in most of the OECD. They manage to provide health care to their elderly and their poor, and do so at much cheaper cost. What do they know that we don’t? Are we so handcuffed by jingoism and inertia — an inertia compounded by those who profit quite nicely from the current system, and want no change — that we are incapable of responding?
– Jay Bookman