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Justin Vernold

October 19, 2013

A shameful battle over health care

As one of those hearty, young revenue streams that health insurance executives like to refer to as “young invincibles,” there isn’t a lot for me to get excited about in the Affordable Care Act.

Of course, I’m not thrilled to admit that. One of my foremost concerns as a voter has always been improving the absurd system the United States uses to deliver healthcare.

The numbers have been staggering. The U.S., according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, spent a whopping 17.4 percent of its gross domestic product on health care in 2009, while no other country spent more than 12 percent — even those that provided universal coverage for all citizens.

A cost comparison of specific products and services shows how badly we’ve been ripped off. A caesarian section, according to the OECD, was 30 percent more expensive in the U.S. than in France. A hip replacement was 45 percent more expensive, and the 50 most-popular pharmaceutical drugs were 60 percent more expensive in the U.S. than in Europe.

Even more disturbing is the way these numbers are trending. U.S. health care spending increased 72 percent from 2000 to 2009 alone, and by 2020, health care will account for nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

I know President Barack Obama made it a priority to provide insurance for those roughly 40 million Americans who lacked it before he took office. But in settling for quantity rather than quality, Obama blew an opportunity to establish a health system worth being proud of.

With the new health care law, the corporate insurance giants who’ve been ripping us off for decades have been given a guaranteed new revenue stream — and I have no choice but to participate. Every year these crooks demand a larger slice of the national pie; according to the Wall Street Journal, health care CEOs have the highest median pay of any industry at $10 million a year. Oil and gas company CEOs, for comparison’s sake, had a median pay of $8.6 million.

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Justin Vernold
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