Registered: Jan 2006
08-31-12 08:36 PM
I quite agree with Epic that among the many defects in the unacceptable U.S. healthcare paradigm is the pricing mechanism. We have more or less endless debate over ways to pay but way too little debate on how to bring prices down to levels consistent with other industrialized countries.
To add to the overall debate I want to throw out some additional food for thought. And this is something that I have not seen much discussion of.
In the U.S., a typical citizen either pays simultaneously for BOTH private medical insurance -- directly,or indirectly via an employer-- and for medicare for ones entire working life, right through retirement up until death. After retirement medicare supplemental insurance replaces the policy that protected one during one's working years, and medicare payments continue right up to death (they don't stop upon reaching age 65 as the naive would suppose!)
If you add all this together and include any reasonable amount of compound interest your going to come up with a large number, roughly in the neighborhood of 1 million dollars -- a little more, a little less depending on circumstances.
I believe the NY Times had an article for which they had calculated typical medicare contributions over a lifetime. They also found that by far the largest medical costs accrued during ones final months of life, and that was something on average in the neighborhood of $500K. (I'm recalling this from memory, so there could be some errors here.) Anyway, I think the conclusion was that it was these last few months that were the main cause for a medicare shortfall.
My thoughts on this are that something is drastically wrong:
1. We are already contributing what should be enough on average in 2012 dollars (~1 million!) for a lifetime of top notch medical care;
2. There is a huge, unrecognized subsidy of the private insurance companies by U.S. tax payers. The insurance companies are, by and large, insuring the low risk years up to age 65 with high premiums, and providing only limited supplemental coverage during the higher risk years after age 65, at lower premium of course, whereas the taxpayer is assuming nearly all the risk during the high risk years!
All I can say is, WOW! what a good deal for Blue Cross and Blue Shield!!!
(I'll try to find a link to the NY Times article)