Health care for the economy
By Kathleen O'Connor
Special to The Times -Tuesday,
October 14, 2003
The complete article is currently (3/29/04) available on the
Seattle Times website at-- http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2001765078_kathleen14.html [found through a Google search by article title on the same
What if health-care reform were a straightforward question of jobs, America's
national economic interest and our international competitiveness? It is. Just look.
Here's the quick end of the story first. Administrative expenses devour a
150-percent larger share of America's health-care spending than our competitors in the Economic Group of Eight.
We spend 14 percent of our gross domestic product on health care, but we don't
cover everyone. Our competitors spend about half that and manage to cover all their people. ...
Actually, we don't spend $1.4 trillion on health care; only about $825 million
actually goes for patient care. ...
But what happens when we try to discuss this? The knee-jerk "socialized medicine!"
mantra. That universal coverage means "socialized medicine" is hogwash.
Most of our competitors [in the Economic Group of Eight] give more control
for private-sector care providers than we do and they rank higher in health outcomes. Even Canada. Our health care could just
as easily be called "privatized socialism" because private entities (versus the government) dictate which doctors we can see,
how much they can charge and the kinds of medicines they can prescribe. Does that happen in Canada, France, Germany or Japan?
Of course not.
This private-sector bureaucracy is the major culprit and significant reason
for the economic strains on our businesses and our provider practices. ...
Kathleen O'Connor writes regularly on health-care issues for The Times. She publishes "The O'Connor Report" and is founder
of a new nonprofit health-care advocacy organization, Code Blue Now!, www.codebluenow.org