In the U.S. health care system, 60 percent of all residents are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. This may increase the risk that the United States will lose good jobs to companies in other countries.
U.S. firms spent twice as much on health care in 2005 as their foreign competitors. U.S. companies spent $2.38 per hour for every American worker making $18 an hour. In contrast, firms in Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France spent only 96 cents each hour for a worker making $20 per hour.
The wide cost difference between U.S. health costs and those overseas may threaten the nation’s ability to compete in the global marketplace, the study’s authors said.
The average worker contribution for family health insurance has also increased by a staggering 102 percent since 2000. If you think you’re spending a lot on health care now, wait a few years. By 2016, it’s expected that health care costs will double to more than $4 trillion! And the 16 cents of every dollar that’s now spent on health care is going to rise to nearly 20 cents in the next 10 years.
Just about everyone, from businesses to individuals, is feeling the pinch, and it’s no wonder when you consider these outrageous facts about health care costs from the National Coalition on Health Care:
- In 2007, $2.3 trillion, or $7,600 per person, was spent on health care.
- Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.
- Total health care spending represented 16 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), and is expected to increase to 20 percent by 2016.
- For comparison, health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France.
- Workers are now paying $1,400 more in premiums annually for family coverage than they did in 2000.
Americans are even beginning to “outsource” their own health care to other countries, where they can get in a vacation and a medical procedure for less than the price of the procedure alone in the United States. It’s known as “medical tourism.”
In Taiwan, for example, citizens are completely covered for dental, maternity, prescription drugs, imaging tests, surgical procedures, and just about anything else for around $20 a month. So the discrepancies in cost are quite dramatic.
What’s the Solution to Lower Health Care Costs?
The authors of the New America Foundation report are calling for a new model of health care that:
- Reforms the current insurance marketplace
- Provides income-based subsidies
- Is individual, rather than employer-based
More government involvement doesn’t hold the answer to the health care crisis. What is needed is more personal involvement -- your personal involvement -- in the form of a commitment to your own health.
If you carefully follow some basic health principles -- simple things like exercising, eating whole foods, sleeping enough, getting sun exposure, and reducing stress in your life -- you will drastically reduce your need for conventional medical care.
You could also carefully analyze newer health insurance options such as HRAs and HSAs if you live in the United States. The basic concept here is to provide protection against medical catastrophes, but to have a high deductible to lower your costs. If you stay healthy, the premium savings would more than pay for the higher deductible -- IF you ever need it.
And that is really the bottom line.
The more you take responsibility for your own health -- in the form of nurturing your body to prevent disease -- the less you need to rely on the “disease care” that passes for health care in the United States in the first place.