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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

U.S. Health Care Costs: $8160 per Person

...amount spent on paperwork and yachts for insurance execs: $1958 per person.

In the run-up to President Barack Obama's address to Congress and the world tonight, the Department of Health and Human Services gives numbers on one of the biggest obstacles to recharging the American economy: the spiralling cost of health care. HHS figures we Americans will spend $8,160 per capita on health care this year. That's only a 4.5% jump from 2008... but it doesn't change the fact that we're spending more per person than every other developed country (sorry, old numbers—feel free to submit updates!). And a big chunk of that money ($700 billion, by one estimate) is wasted, doing nothing to make a single person live better or longer.

Want to boost the economy? Reform health care. President Obama's push for health information technology will help; so will switching to a single-payer, not-for-profit health coverage system. Mr. Obama, it's time to shake things up!


  1. I save a fair chunk of money by investing it in a membership to the Community Center. I spend more than $400 a year for our family membership.

    That's not quite enough activity so my wife and I have been working with a trainer for the past year 2 or 3 days a week. And yes this costs money, but it's far less than your $8160 per person. The new GET ACTIVE program is only $15 a month for 2 weekly group training sessions. There are all sorts of aerobic classes going morning, noon and night.

    If you want to be healthy, you have to get up and do something and not just sit on the couch watching the doom and gloom on the TV. There are no good excuses when it comes to avoiding exercise.

    We are our own worst enemy when it comes to health.

  2. So now O is blaming our poor economy on health care prices? I can't believe this. He is shoveling, yes shoveling, money to banks, mortgages, Acorn, etc etc and now he blames this on health care.

    He's pushing just a little too hard, and it's going to bite him in the you know where pretty soon.

    Get out of our pocketbooks, out of business decisions, and let the market adjust itself. You can see how much of an influence he has on the stock market so far with his bumbling. Actually it's kinda fun to watch his boondoggle so far, if it wasn't also tragic for our country.

    Much as it pains me, I will be watching tonight to see just what O is planning today, but of course it will change tomorrow.

  3. Since the article you linked about 700 Billion in wasteful spending comes from The Tax Policy Center, can I assume that the waste is occurs at the Federal Government, and not private industry?

  4. Michael, how much of a discount does your health insurance company give you for using a community center membership?

  5. Erin,

    It means that I don't pay that nasty deductible.

    I believe in personal responsibility especially when it comes to my health. Moderation in all things will make your life more enjoyable.

    The government certainly won't solve my problems for me.

  6. Personal responsibility certainly plays a critical role in health care. I swim at least a mile every day, and sometimes two miles. My weight is ideal, I don't smoke, and I can hardly imagine a more nutritious way of eating than my way.

    Nevertheless, stuff happens.

    In 1994, despite a healthy lifestyle, I got pneumonia "out of the clear blue." It was so hard to believe that such a thing could happen, that I lay around in denial for three weeks, getting sicker and sicker. Finally, my health insurance policy proved its worth. I had to go to the hospital to get rid of the fluid in my lungs. Five days. Seven thousand dollars. And that was fifteen years ago. I was lucky because I had an honorable insurance company. Not all companies are honorable.

    No matter how well we take care of ourselves, bad things can and do happen. I was listening to a forum on SDPB this morning about health insurance, lawyers, failure of the companies to honor their contracts, and so forth and so on, and I got madder and madder and madder. I wanted to call in and tell them "Yes, we should have socialized medicine. Swallow that word, toss the crooked corporate killers out on their butts, and start over with the Kucinich plan or something like it." But then I decided it would be bad for my stomach to call in and get all that adrenaline rushing, so I ate lunch and took a nap.

    Socialized medicine will come eventually, whether I call in to talk shows, rant on blogs like this, or not. But I do wonder: Will it come in time for me to avoid having to choose between destitution and death? Will I be lucky and hold out till age 65? Let's roll the dice and see, shall we?

    In the case of health care, I really do believe that the government can, should, and someday will solve this problem. I have to admit that I'm afraid of the way it might be paid for; but I'm more afraid of what might happen to me if the current system is not completely overthrown and replaced with "Medicare for all."

    Go ahead and hit the health club, everyone. And say your prayers every night.


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