September 1st, 2009 By | News | Posted In: Healthcare Reform, Congress, Public Policy

Greed Hampers Health Care

They can yell all they want, but protestors at recent town hall meetings organized by members of Congress cannot escape the facts: The U.S. health care system is horrible compared to other democracies — and it’s largely because of the profit motive.

An excellent article by author and ex-reporter T.R. Reid appeared Aug. 23 in The Washington Post. The piece clearly and succinctly outlines how our health care system compares to others around the world and, in the process, dispels myths being propagated by the Fox News-watching, Tea Party-loving crowd.

The most salient part of the article explains how the market-driven, for-profit aspects of our system actually stifles effective health care and drives up costs.

“It may seem to Americans that U.S.-style free enterprise — private-sector, for-profit health insurance — is naturally the most cost-effective way to pay for health care,” the article states. “But in fact, all the other payment systems are more efficient than ours.

“U.S. health insurance companies have the highest administrative costs in the world; they spend roughly 20 cents of every dollar for non-medical costs, such as paperwork, reviewing claims and marketing. France's health insurance industry, in contrast, covers everybody and spends about 4 percent on administration. Canada's universal insurance system, run by government bureaucrats, spends 6 percent on administration. In Taiwan, a leaner version of the Canadian model has administrative costs of 1.5 percent; one year, this figure ballooned to 2 percent, and the opposition parties savaged the government for wasting money.”

It adds, “The key difference is that foreign health insurance plans exist only to pay people's medical bills, not to make a profit. The United States is the only developed country that lets insurance companies profit from basic health coverage.”

09.02.2009 at 01:04 Reply
Great point! So why are the corporate Democrats-like Steve Driehaus-keeping the profit motive in their health care plans? Follow the money!!!


09.08.2009 at 04:30
See my comment above. They're only a bit less corrupt than the Republicans. "Follow the money," exactly. Yet people laugh at Ralph Nader for being a "spoiler." Fools.


09.03.2009 at 11:57 Reply
Gotta agree with Justin -- profit has no place in the provision of public goods like health care. Still, politics is the art of the possible, not the perfect. I'll be very happy with a strong public option.


09.03.2009 at 01:12
Medicare for all is supported by a majority of doctors, nurses and the American people. The Democrats have the White House, the House and the Senate. They are the ones holding back what the American people clearly want. They failed to have hearings where they could have exposed all the waste, fraud and abuse in the current Pay or Die system. They are letting the right frame the terms of the debate because they are too beholden to the same health insurance and pharmaceutical interests that Republicans are. We know Obama did a secret deal with them and they are directing his “reform” plan. And of course he's backing away from the public option because he's taken more health industry payola than any other politician. Costs will continue to sky rocket even with a “public option” because they are keeping the people that are the problem in the mix so they can continue to make a killing. You can look at Massachusetts and see that it doesn’t control costs only preventing people from making a profit will do that. With a majority of Americans supporting Medicare-for-all you can’t say it’s not possible. That would be a lie!


09.05.2009 at 10:47 Reply
Google 'David Goldhill Health' and you shold find a long, complicated article in the Atlantic on health care reform that might have some appeal across the political spectrum. Its been a few weeks since I read it but I think he basically calls for universal CATASTROPHIC insurance (paid for with subsidies for the indigent) and expanded health savings accounts to pay for routine treatments. One of his main points is that health care is so costly in this country because there is NOT ENOUGH GREED in the system. Greed, of course, meaning self-interest. Goldhill points out the insane incentives in our current system which completely warps and distorts the greed, or self-interest, of the consumer (far more important than producer greed)from rationally using everyday cost-benefit analysis (is this extra, marginal test worth the money?)to decide to have or not to have certain procedures because, in essence, it doesn't cost an insured person any direct money.


09.07.2009 at 05:44 Reply
What about the "greed" of some people who want every little procedure covered by their plan so others in the plan have to pay higher premia? What about the "greed" of some people who think they have a "right" to health care that someone else is supposed to pay for? What about the "greed" of some people who think government jobs which consume wealth produced by others shouldn't be minimized? What about the "greed" of politicians who don't understand the constitutional limits imposed upon the federal government and who want to expand and increase their power and influence through taxpayer-funded feelgood programs?


09.08.2009 at 04:29 Reply
While I completely agree that the problem with the health care system (and almost everything else) in the United States is caused by the greed factor, one needs to consider whether the government has a greater interest than private business in the welfare of the public. Lobbyists and other moneyed interests routinely manipulate Congress. The government needs major reform before it can be trusted to handle the health needs of the public.