If Americans will come together and support one another in having universal healthcare, we can lift this worry from our fellow citizens. It requires us not to be "blue" or "red" - but to be human. It requires us to give a damn about the suffering of others. It requires us to understand that most of us are just lucky - and could simply be 1 scan away from a medical diagnosis that could bankrupt our family. Great healthcare should not only be for the rich. It should be accessible to every American.
If we will unify as the people - saying that we expect nothing less than equal access to affordable healthcare - regardless of age or income - we will also discover that we have addressed some other important problems too.
Many critics argue this cannot be done in the U.S. But the US far outpaces every country in both raw spending and spending as a percentage of GDP. The US is nowhere near first place for life expectancy (15th out of 34) or quality of care despite all that spending.
There are 5 major reasons American healthcare costs are so much higher.
Finally, the math. The total cost of all healthcare in the US today is $2.8 trillion (CBO). The estimated cost with a single-payer universal healthcare system is $2.2 trillion. That is a savings of $600 billion on current costs. There would likely be some increase to demand - research organizations estimate this at about $140 billion. The total cost of US health costs under a universal model would be about $2.3 trillion ($500 Billion less than today). Currently, our government is spending about $1.3 trillion on healthcare (Medicare & Medicaid). If we - as a country - covered 75% of total 2.3 trillion costs, the government's cost would be $1.7 trillion. The extra taxes to do so would be about $400 billion. To put that number in perspective - the war in Iraq and Afghanistan has cost (already) approximately $2.4 Trillion (CBO/ Reuters). Enough to cover healthcare for every American for 6 years! Add the costs incurred in Pakistan and Syria and we're at $4.8 Trillion (Brown University) - Enough to cover healthcare for every American for 12 years!
There are many ways to address this problem - and there are many ways to get at a great solution - but it requires us to behave as humans - and in the best interest of our country and citizens. It requires us to worry less about who's right and who's wrong and simply say we - in the richest country in the world - are tired of bankrupting 1 in 3 families who get a cancer diagnosis. We are tired of children not having access to healthcare. We will not tolerate the status quo any longer.
And in doing so, we will find that our friends and neighbors feel less alienated from a country that has overcome at last one of the least attractive manifestations of American exceptionalism—and joined the rest of the civilized world in reducing our common human vulnerability to illness and pain.
Michael is an executive coach, entrepreneur, investor, and strategist with 30 years of experience leading investor-backed, high-growth organizations.
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