U.S. healthcare is sick. The U.S. government reports that, in 2017, we spent $10,739 for every man, woman and child in the country. That adds up to $3.5 TRILLION! ($3,497,692,300 to be exact.)

According to data compiled by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, that number may have ticked down slightly in 2018. But it’s still far more per person than any other country spends.

All that might be well and good if the quality of our healthcare was also twice as good. Sadly, it’s not. Based on factors like life expectancy, successful pregnancies and equal access to qualified care and facilities, the U.S. is ranked 29th by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – and 24th according to the U.N.

So Who Pays for All That Healthcare?

Ultimately, we do. We the people, the taxpayers, average Americans pay the most – both directly in the form of health insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses – and indirectly through government spending funded by our taxes.

SOURCE: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group
(Your tax dollars at work!)

Follow the Money

So where do we spend all those healthcare dollars? Over half of our money goes to providers – to hospitals and other care facilities – and to physicians and other medical staff. Prescription Drugs is another significant chunk, followed by Administration, Investment, Dental, Residential and Personal Care which includes ambulances, mental health and community health facilities and Other Professional Services like Physical Therapy, Vision and Chiropractic services.

SOURCE: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary, National Health Statistics Group
(Your tax dollars at work!)

So How Did We Get So Sick?

America has been fighting over healthcare for nearly a century! In 1935, FDR wanted to include universal, single-payer healthcare in the Social Security Act but he couldn’t get it through.

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson passed the nation’s first public healthcare with Medicare, which subsidizes healthcare for those 65 and older, and Medicaid which provides healthcare for those with disabilities or low income. Everybody who works pays for these programs through payroll taxes. Basically, every Congress since has suggested ways to either expand or limit these programs.

In 2010, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. This law made major changes, including coverage of people with preexisting conditions, subsidies to allow low income families to buy coverage and a mandate that everyone had to have health insurance.

These changes were met with a good deal of resistance. Numerous states chose not to enact their end of the program. Some sued the federal government. In Congress, there were countless bills to repeal and replace this law, but when it came right down to it, those efforts failed (in one case by just 1 vote cast by Senator John McCain (R/AZ).

The 115th Congress did repeal the ACA’s individual mandate. That put the legality of the whole program into question and another round of lawsuits has begun. At this moment, the future of the Affordable Care Act will likely be determined in the Supreme Court where the Trump administration has chosen not to defend it.

What’s the Cure for What Ails U.S.?

Well, Congress could actually pass a law. But clearly, neither political party has figured out healthcare. Not for a lack of trying. There are over 1400 bills involving healthcare in the current Congress. 305 bills aim to fix the ACA while 235 confront the rise in prescription drug costs.

Basically, all these bills fall into four major categories:

  • Change to Single-Payer, Government Managed Healthcare – That’s what Medicare For All is. It’s a national health program that makes health insurance illegal and instead, covers everyone for virtually every health concern. Find out what the Medicare For All Act Actually Says.
  • Allow People to Buy into Medicare or Medicaid – Essentially, this government plan would compete with private health insurance companies. Businesses and individuals could choose which plan they want. Bills like the Public Option Plan, Medicare X and Medicare for America are examples of these plans.
  • Fix the Affordable Care Act – A plethora of bills address problems ranging from prescription drug prices to insurance restrictions to price transparency. All are piecemeal ways to incrementally improve our healthcare.
  • Ditch the Affordable Care Act – This would return us an open health insurance model with free-market pricing dependent on health, age, and lifestyle factors. These bills include the Obamacare Repeal Act and the Responsible Path to Full Obamacare Repeal Act.

Certainly we’re smart enough to heal America. But we haven’t yet.

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