Can we afford not to adopt national health care?

In the Friday issue of The Advertiser-Tribune, Rebecca Orians claims, “We can’t afford it.” She is speaking of a national health care system as enjoyed by the citizens of almost every industrialized country in the world except the United States. Instead of a tax-supported NHC program, we in the United States depend on a mish mash of private, for-profit health insurance for most, and government-supported health care for our elderly, low-income and disabled citizens.

Ms. Orians claims the cost of NHC would be between $25 trillion and $35 trillion over 10 years. Yes, Ms. Orians, that is a lot of money. Can we or can we not afford such a cost?

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University, supported in large part by Charles and David Koch, did a study on health care costs in the United States. The recently released results estimate a 10-year cost of $32.6 trillion for NHC as proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. That is right in the ball park with Ms Orians’ $25 trillion to $35 trillion estimate.

The current “for-profit” system of health care, in which drug company and health insurance company executives make salaries in the tens of millions of dollars per year and in which the cost of drugs and medical care are becoming increasingly unaffordable for our working poor and our middle class, cost us $3.4 trillion in 2016 and is projected to rise to $5.5 trillion in 2025. Call it an average of $4.5 trillion per year over 10 years, making the total cost for 10 years about $45 trillion. Guess what? That is about $10 trillion more than we could be spending to provide health care to every citizen of the United States through national health care.

In the countries that enjoy NHC systems, their citizens have higher life expectancies, lower infant mortality and, in fact, better health care outcomes in almost every category than health care recipients in the United States. And they do this for between $3,000 and $5,500 per capita. In the United States, we spend over $10,000 per capita for inferior results.

Would taxes have to increase to provide NHC? Of course they would. But subtract from that increase whatever you are already paying for health insurance and co-pays and deductibles and “not covered” services, etc., etc., etc. You say you get “free” insurance from your employer? Think again. The cost of that employer-provided insurance comes right out of your pocket. Those dollars could otherwise be in your weekly paycheck. So subtract that money from the increase in your taxes, as well. And that employer-provided insurance? Ask any Fostoria Honeywell (Autolite) retiree how that worked out for them.

By the way, the Mercatus Center that provided the cost estimates for NHC in the United States was funded, as I mentioned earlier, by well-known ultra conservatives Charles and David Koch. So don’t imagine that they “underestimated” the costs of NHC. If anything, I suspect they inflated those costs as much as possible.

Incidental to researching this letter, I learned something I didn’t previously know. Charles and David Koch’s father, Fred Koch, was a founding member of the John Birch Society. How about that?

So, given the above facts, Ms. Orians, I think the real question is, “Can we afford not to adopt a national health care system?”

Additional reading and sources used in this letter:



Garrison Rennels,