Sunday, July 29, 2007


Joshua Holland's AlterNet piece from 7/28/07 gives us a look at some telling statistics showing how the healthcare industry, while reaping huge gains, is actually strangling the rest of the economy. Full article here.

  • Between 2001 and 2006, the healthcare sector added 1.7 million new jobs.

  • Every other sector combined contributed a net gain of zero new jobs.

You read this right. Except for the huge gains in healthcare jobs, the Bush economics policies have fueled exactly no new jobs.

Why would this be? One reason is that corporations are moving their jobs out of the U.S. to lower labor costs. One of the biggest costs corporations have to face these days, aside from energy costs and wages is the staggering cost of health insurance for their employees. Corporations worship at the altar of the prophet profit, and for them to earn one they must trim costs where they can, by laying off workers, moving their jobs out of the country, avoiding new hires, eliminating pay increases, cutting benefits, or a combination of all those things.

Between 2000 and 2006:

  • Workers pay increased an average of 18%

  • Inflation rose 20 %

  • Employers healthcare premiums went up 90%

Between 2000 and 2005, total healthcare spending increased by 47%, and for 2007 it is estimated that it will reach $2.25 trillion, which is 16% of our GDP.

The private for-profit health industry is placing such a burden on employers that only 50% of companies even offer health insurance to their employees, and those that do are negotiating insurance contracts that are shifting an ever-increasing share of the costs to the employees, whose wages are not keeping up with inflation.

Fully 50% of personal bankruptcies result from medical bills that people simply are unable to pay. With increased co-pays and lessened coverage straining wage earners, there is less money available to fuel the other sectors of the economy, such as travel, entertainment, clothing, and housing.

Housing is problematic now because of all the sub-prime mortgages going into default, due in part to increasing medical costs, and is seriously depressing the housing market, with a potentially disastrous ripple effect into the financial markets. A recession or a depression may result.

Our total economy is being strangled by out-of-control healthcare costs. Insured workers have less to spend, employers are dis-incentivized to retain jobs or expand or grant wage increases, and there are 47 million people who have no private insurance at all, because they can't afford it.

That's another part of the part of the problem, because a fully insured family pays about $1,000 per year in increased premiums to subsidize part of the costs incurred by the uninsured.

Defenders of privatized health insurance are lying through their teeth when they extol the "benefits" of our present system. Rather than providing a healthy populace and a healthy economy, it's literally killing us.

The "American dream" is quickly, very quickly becoming an "impossible dream".

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