Health, Absurdity and Math

There are a lot of terrifying myths being floated by, mostly Republican, extremist, bought-and-paid-for-by-insurance-companies types about the health care reform being discussed by the U.S. Congress.  Actually, with that body being in recess, the whole country is now engaged first-hand through the town halls being organized by its members with their constituents.

You’ve read, heard, and seen what is going on at these gatherings.  The most extreme, or sometimes ill-informed, people, organized by anti-reform lobbying groups are sent to disrupt these meetings.  So, the strategy of the anti-reform forces is obvious— sow fear, confusion, and disruption— resulting in sure failure.  This is much like the Turks’ denial campaign, just plant a seed of doubt, and the dirty deed is as good as done.

You can get all this and more elsewhere.  Here, I want to present and play with some numbers on this issue.  Here goes.

The annual tab for healthcare in the U.S. is $2,500,000,000,000 (that’s two and a half trillion dollars.

We’re told the proposed plan will cost an extra $1 trillion OVER TEN YEARS.  That’s a tenth of a, or .1, trillion dollars per year.  Remember, the Bush tax cuts for the rich, earlier this decade, cost the same trillion, and benefited very, very, very, very, very few people.

Currently, the private system in place has about 20% overhead (read profit and avoidable paperwork).

The U.S. has 47 million uninsured people.  It turns out that only 31 million would benefit from the proposals floating around.  Why?  The remainder is undocumented aliens whom the plans won’t cover according to President Obama.

So this means that for only 4% more annually (.1 trillion divided by 2.5 trillion) we can cover 10% more of the country’s population (31 million divided by 307.2 million, the current U.S. population estimate).  This seems like a bargain to me.  In terms of real dollars, this means a cost to the country overall of $326 per person per year.  Or, in other terms, each newly covered person costs $3226.

All these numbers seem pretty cheap to me for what we’d get in return: far fewer emergency room visits (the most expensive kind of medical care) by people who wait until a condition is severe because they don’t have coverage; better overall public health since communicable diseases would be checked and contagion would be  less likely; even the private sector benefits, since people would be able to have coverage independently of their workplace, reducing costs to employers/companies, many of which have problems competing with overseas firms because the latter’s countries DO provide publicly funded healthcare; the 20% overhead is eliminated because publicly run programs have no need for profit, just like Medicare, which senior citizens are largely satisfied with; this public plan would provide competition to the private insurance that would still exist, making the latter more efficient—after all, that’s what the moneyed class always harangues us about, “competition breeds efficiency, it’s the capitalist way, the market balances these things out”.  With all this, no plan is perfect, this is planet Earth and its designers are human.  But, it’s better by far than the current arrangement.

So why would anyone oppose this?  Simple, they either stand to lose the boatloads of money they’re making at our expense, they’re ill informed and misled by their chosen sources of “trustworthy” information— Rush Limbaugh & Sarah Palin come to mind, or they’re simply extreme ideologues.

The vast majority of the population does not fit into any of these categories.  The vast, overwhelming majority of the country’s people would benefit from health care reform.  Remember Nataline Sarkissian (wasn’t that the result of a “death panel” provided courtesy of the much ballyhooed private medical insurance industry?) and decide accordingly.  Then let your federal representatives know you support the health care reform principles espoused by Obama.


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  1. Ruben said:

    Balanced and reason? This is the most left-wing article from the most extreme left-wing writer I have ever read!!

  2. Hamlet said:

    My dear Armenians, I’m 35 year old self employed guy with wife and two kids, I can’t afford to pay $700 a month for heakth insurance because I make barely $ 50.000 a year which is barely in off for my rent, bills and food in city of Glendale. Obamas plan will help most of the Armenians, I’m republican my self but this plan will help many Armenians that I know bealive me. If you are rich then dont worry you will get the best help from doctors any way, but all I want is to get just a little bit help when my both kids are sick and i can get any help from any one unless I pay 300 to $400 for just an office visit, god forbid if I go hospital then I have pay them for the rest of my life. Be smart, this plan will not affect any one that has the money, and I wiwh all the armenians do, but I know that not the case.

  3. John K. said:

    I am retired military. I have two insurance, Blue-shield and Tri-Care (military insurance) and still pay thousands of dollars out of pocket every year because the insurance companies don’t cover everything. I am registered Republican also, but this has nothing to do with politics. The health cost has doubled in this country in less than a decade thats more than 10% increase per year, which is 4 times the inflation rate. Any idiot would see that the system is broken and needs to be fixed and I don’t care who fixes it!

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