Of course my title is in jest, but what I hope is recognized is that there are plenty of options to make Social Security sustainable for the long term. Among the options, there are things for different vantage points to like. The fact that our elected officials are unable to create a positive outcome shows the dysfunction our political system and the vacuum of leadership that exists.
So we move on to a much more challenging beast, reigning in healthcare costs and the health care industry. Here’s a visual slideshow that the Christian Science Monitor assembled to illustrate the size of the beast.
Somehow, our health care system has managed to cost roughly twice, per capita, as other OECD countries and be about twice the percentage of GDP. It would be one thing if we could point to better health outcomes and better coverage of the population, but we can’t. The beast is served while we have 48.6 million uninsured and the research is virtually unanimous that the health outcomes in the United States are worse than our peers. Here’s one example that illustrates how the US is last of 16 peer countries in overall mortality rate.
Meanwhile, here’s what we are good at:
- Creating fantastic medical technologies. The US is the leader in creating medical technologies that diagnose and treat illnesses. This includes devices and drugs.
- Generating “profits” for medical corporations. So-called non-profit hospitals are among the most profitable. In Fortune Magazines ranking of most profitable industries, Pharmaceuticals ranked #3 and Medical Products and Equipment ranked #4. I shutter to think where the non-profit hospitals would rank if they were included.
It would seem that medical consumers would be outraged. We are overpaying for an industry that is under performing. Ironically, health care providers don’t love the beast either. They feel like they are serving the industry and not the patient. It would seem that these two taken together would create enough energy to generate meaningful change. Alas, this is one difficult beast to tame…