Americans Can’t Afford Health Care (Except for Me)

Posted on May 1, 2012


Blogging has resulted in my drawing people to me with interesting proposals.  Most of these involve an attempt to place various body parts into other body parts and would result in their incarceration if I took their offers seriously and notified the local constabulary.  But then there are the real folks who ask me to review books, one who asked me to be interviewed for her CD series on dating after 50, and another who asked me to co-star in a major motion picture.  I was, at that time, too busy blogging about my cat, and so the part went to Angelina Jolie.

The latest request was from a group that works with statistics in order to assess the state of our health care system.  This request was especially of interest to me because as of January 1, I had been flirting with potential doom by not having medical coverage.  I can hear your gasps all the way through the computer screen: You will be ruined if anything happens to you!  Yes, I answer, I know!  And isn’t it exciting?  I haven’t flaunted danger to such an extent since I chose to secretly date non-Jewish boys against my parents’ wishes.

Why did I do this. You ask?  I did it because I was getting a tad bit tired of paying $837 a month for medical insurance for just me.

Let’s look at the illustration above (taken directly from the website, which posted the researchers’ data), filled with many fascinating statistics about our health care system.  This illustration is compelling evidence that I am completely unable to work with anything resembling basic technology.  I am inept.  If you want ept, I can send you a list of bloggers I follow who are able to turn their posts into veritable trips to Disney World (You know who you are, Jules).  For now, you’ll have to take my word for the following:

The chart is titled “Americans Can’t Afford Health Care.” This is followed by “The average American family spends $19,393 annually for health care.” My individual care was costing $10,044.  That’s a couple trips to Europe, an Alaskan cruise, and a lot of cute shoes. Or six months’ worth of mortgage payments, and maybe one pair of cute shoes.

Sixty per cent of personal bankruptcies are linked to medical bills.  Fourteen countries, including most of Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia have lower medical costs than we do in the US of A.  We spend twice as much on health care as the Japanese (and they go to the doctor 2-3 times as much as we do.)

Ah, you ask, where do you get all those cute shoes?  Stand back, I’m trying to be serious here. Even more surprising is that we drink and smoke way less than some of these countries.  Here’s the real reason medical costs are so high:

1. Hospitals overcharge for Visits: The cost of a hospital stay here is $3181.  In the world, $1050

Prescription drugs: $125 vs $63

Routine checkup $59 vs $29

     CT scan  $950 vs $530

     Giving birth: $7473 vs $3400

2. Hospital waste is massive (dollars, not the stuff put into bags) compared to other countries

3. Outpatient care costs are massive, compared to other countries

4. Medical and dental professions account for 14 of the highest paid professions in the US (Yes, I know that many nurses are overworked and underpaid. And many doctors aren’t getting rich, because of malpractice insurance)

The conclusion is that by 2030, medical insurance will exceed income for the average family.

All this data is from one publication, with a bibliography of 14 sources.  I haven’t checked all the data, but the numbers I did check are cited in many other sources as well.  So what does all this mean?  You tell me.  These folks want feedback.

As for me, congratulations are in order.  As of today, I am covered by Medicare.  I survived three months of no health insurance, and my monthly insurance bill will now be about a third of what it was before.  To celebrate, I bought a pair of cute shoes.