In all of the fearmongering about the cost of health care reform, ask yourself–what is the cost of inaction?
Here’s a hint, from Bloomberg:
The last time a president tried to overhaul U.S. health care, Americans were spending $912 billion on the system and 40 million were uninsured. Today they’re spending $2.5 trillion and almost 50 million lack coverage.
The experience of the 15 years since Bill Clinton failed to win passage of legislation suggests that the price of inaction may be even higher than the cost of Obama’s plan.
Congress refused to touch the issue for a decade after the collapse of Clinton’s 1994 bid. A similar outcome this year would likely add millions to the ranks of the uninsured, boost costs for businesses and workers, and do nothing about what may be the top threat to the government’s long-term fiscal health, proponents of the plan argue.
This is why health care reform is so important. Our health care system is deteriorating–the ranks of the uninsured are swelling, costs are rising, and businesses and individuals just can’t keep up. It was bad 15 years ago, it’s worse now, and without health care reform it will become far worse.
Remember, the people trying to kill health care reform don’t have a reform proposal of their own; it’s not as if they can solve our health care crisis better or cheaper. They don’t care what the real-world implications of the health care crisis; they just want to stymie reform so they can keep collecting checks from the health industrial complex.
These are the stakes:
Health-insurance premiums for families have risen 119 percent since 1999, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a Menlo Park, California-based policy-research firm. Inflation has risen 28.5 percent over that period, according to the Labor Department.
Premium costs are projected to rise another 9 percent next year, an increase that 42 percent of employers plan to pass on to their workers, according to a report last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s likely to further squeeze millions of Americans who find themselves in high-deductible insurance plans as wages stagnate because of the recession.
Health-care spending will account for 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product in 2018, or $1 in $5 spent, compared with 16 percent of GDP, $1 of $6 spent, in 2008.
The price tag for health care reform is big, but the cost of inaction is huge. We will pay far more for failing to pass health care reform than for just passing it.
All the Republicans and Blue Dogs complaining about the price of health care reform know this; they just don’t care. As I said, the only people who have their ears on this issue are the people who fund their campaigns.
But the rest of us are suffering. America is suffering. And without reform, we will continue to suffer. A trillion dollars is small compared to the trillions of dollars we will pay to prop up our ailing health care system year after year, even as we get less and less in return.