Archive for Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Health care costs to top $8,000 per person

February 24, 2009


Money coming to Kansas

$71.5 million — the first installment of $440 million in additional Medicaid funds that Kansas expects to get from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — will be available Wednesday for the state’s Medicaid program.

— A new government report on medical costs paints a stark picture for President Barack Obama, who is expected to call for a health care overhaul in a speech tonight to a joint session of Congress.

Even before lawmakers start debating how care is delivered to the American people, the report shows the economy is making the job of reform harder.

Health care costs will top $8,000 per person this year, consuming an ever-bigger slice of a shrinking economic pie, says the report by the Department of Health and Human Services, due out today.

As the recession cuts into tax receipts, Medicare’s giant hospital trust fund is running out of cash more rapidly, and could become insolvent as early as 2016, the report said. That’s three years sooner than previously forecast.

At the same time, the government’s already large share of the nation’s health care bill will keep growing.

Programs such as Medicaid are expanding to take up some of the slack as more people lose job-based coverage. And baby boomers will soon start reaching 65 and signing up for Medicare. Those trends together mean that taxpayers will be responsible for more than half of the nation’s health care bill by 2016 — just seven years from now.

“The outlook for health spending during these difficult economic times is laden with formidable challenges,” said the report by statisticians at HHS. It appears in the journal Health Affairs.

The health care cost forecast did not take into account recent legislation that expanded medical coverage for children of low income working parents, and added to the government’s obligations.

The report “accelerates the day of reckoning,” said economist John Palmer of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

The report found health care costs will average $8,160 this year for every man, woman and child, an increase of $356 per person from last year.

Meanwhile, the number of uninsured has risen to about 48 million, according to a new estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The government statisticians estimated that health costs will reach $13,100 per person in 2018, accounting for $1 out of every $5 spent in the economy.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

"Meanwhile, the number of uninsured has risen to about 48 million, according to a new estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation."

And probably an equal number, who while technically insured, have such minimal coverage as to be for all practical purposes useless. In other words, we have the most expensive "healthcare" system in the world, and 1/3 of the country gets no benefit from it.

But heck, 1% of the country gets fabulously wealthy from it, so the status quo is sacrosanct.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago

I demand that the government not force me into paying for bozo's healthcare - or anyone else's. It's not the government's responsibility nor is it the government's right to take from me in order to redistribute to others.

This is a not merely a philosophical difference I have with the liberal elitists like bozo who would choose to run my life if I acquiesced; it is also a Constitutional issue. That is, there is no authority enumerated in our Constitution which allows the government to tax me in order to give to others.

If you want socialized medicine, tough. You are not going to take my freedom and my income from me in order to satisfy your twisted dream of a social utopia.

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

"I demand that the government not force me into paying for bozo's healthcare - or anyone else's."

But it's perfectly OK for private insurance to do the same an astronomical profit and horrible benefits to the consumer. I have what most people would call "excellent" coverage, and I hate it. It takes forever to get an appointment, I probably will only see a nurse and not my actual doctor. If I do see my doctor he has maybe...five minutes for me. The office sticks me with all kinds of extra charges when it can, and then insurance tries to not pay for it's share. Oh!!!! But it's a free market! I can just choose a better provider, right???? Except that you can't. That's right, you can't. There's a provider list and finding another provider is an hours and hours long process. Bring on the socialized medicine. Nothing can be worse than this.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

salad, please don't confuse this issue with facts. For STRS and madmike, this is purely about ideology. So please don't distract them as they struggle to keep their ideology pure, and the healthcare system a broken down, expensive joke.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago


Then don't take the coverage. Pay retail to see the doctor you want, when you want. "But I can't afford that," you'd say. "I should force others to pay for the level of care I want," you'll add.

A harmful, destructive "ideology," to say the least.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

“I should force others to pay for the level of care I want,”

Simple fact is, STRS, despite you're whining about being forced to pay for others' care, your out of pocket costs would almost certainly go down, while your care would likely stay the same, or even improve.

But I guess paying more for less is just one of the costs of your precious ideology.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago

Wrong, bozo. I pay very little in health care costs - less than $1,000 every year. Given my income, I would pay through the teeth so that my government could use my money to pay for your healthcare.

I'll tell you what - how about you, the entire KU faculty, Sean Penn, Bill Moyers, and the email distribution list all pool your resources and come up with your own healthcare payment plan.

The rest of us will live free from the shackles of your ideology.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

" less than $1,000 every year."

Which means one of two things--

1) someone else is paying for most of your premiums. If it's your employer, you are still the one who's really doing the paying, because that has a direct impact on your income. Under a single-payer plan, the expenses to your employer would go down, meaning they could pay you more.


2) Your coverage is very poor. If you ever get sick, it likely wouldn't pay for many of the most expensive treatments, and/or you have such a high deductible, that for all practical purposes, means you have no coverage. If you ever have a serious illness, the chances are very high that it could force you and your family into bankruptcy and poverty.

georgeofwesternkansas 8 years, 9 months ago

$8,000?? Whatever, what a load of crap. Have any of you spent 8K at the doctor in recent years.

Medicare and Medicade are the drivers for all the cost shifting to commercial insurance for the past 25 years. There are 3 times as many people covered by government health care than there are on commercial insurance.

hawklet21 8 years, 9 months ago

George, it's an average. But still, thinking about it for just me, that is about 2x what I spent the year that I've spent the most money (gall bladder surgery). I shudder to think what I could possibly spend 8,000 on... Hopefully I'll never have to find out!

feeble 8 years, 9 months ago

I think the question that needs to be addressed is why do comparable healthcare services cost half as much in european nations as they do in the US?

Part of it is how hospitals are structured. The US model allows doctors to charge twice as much as their European counterparts. Our sue happy society is also too blame, most US doctors have enormous malpractice insurance liability and often require a battery of expensive tests for no other reason than to prevent a malpractice suit.

We need to seriously look at how hospitals are structured, and seriously consider tort reform if we are to control costs.

georgeofwesternkansas 8 years, 9 months ago

Yearly checkup, pair of glasses, 2 trips to the dentist, even with a root cannal this is not more than $1,600 retail. This is a bunch of crap, please don't fall for it.

Just another government money grab.

georgeofwesternkansas 8 years, 9 months ago

Feeble says- "We need to seriously look at how hospitals are structured, and seriously consider tort reform if we are to control costs."

The problem is that medicare and medicade do not pay enough to cover the cost of the services they receive. That cost is then shifted to commercail insurance in the form of higher prices.

Any hospital balance sheet will prove this, check the contra asset section of accounts receivable to see that medicare and medicade allowances are more than half of their respective ar balance.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 9 months ago

"$8,000?? Whatever, what a load of crap. Have any of you spent 8K at the doctor in recent years."

Even relatively medical emergencies will cost upwards of $8000 to treat-- knee surgeries, a broken arm, etc. Just because you've been lucky, so far, doesn't mean you know what you're talking about, george.

"Our sue happy society is also too blame, most US doctors have enormous malpractice insurance liability and often require a battery of expensive tests for no other reason than to prevent a malpractice suit."

Malpractice only accounts for about 2% of overall medical costs. While fear of lawsuits might drive some testing, for the most part, it's a combination of the attraction of what's the newest and latest, and the fact that if they can bill for it, they'll do it-- a trait common to all for-profit enterprises.

meggers 8 years, 9 months ago

STRS says "That is, there is no authority enumerated in our Constitution which allows the government to tax me in order to give to others."

Your taxes are already being used to fund the health care of others, through Medicare and Medicaid. If you don't have children, yet pay property taxes, your taxes are partially going to educate other folks' children. Your tax money is also used to fund national parks, many of which you will probably never set foot in. Same goes for bridges, roads, levees, ports, historic monuments, and federal buildings. Not to mention the billions of tax dollars that have been paid to government contractors- much of which remains unaccounted for. Hell, Reagan even illicitly gave weapons paid for by your tax dollars to known terrorists!

So tell me, what part of the constitution makes it unconstitutional for the federal government to tax you, and then spend that tax money on programs voted for by your representatives in Congress. Unless you're a resident of the District of Columbia, there is nothing unconstitutional about you being taxed for programs you don't necessarily agree with.

I do think there was something a wee bit illegal about what Reagan did, though....

feeble 8 years, 9 months ago

Arumer, fully 25% of all American citizens, aged 18-34 do not have any coverage. It isn't just about migrants or illegal aliens.

Defensive medicine practices are estimated to add as much as 9% to overall healthcare costs (based on the Kessler and McClellan study), tort reform is worthy of serious review. Note, it is the frequency, and not actual damages awarded, of malpractice suits that drive this 9% figure. While 9% may seem not worthy of notice to some, this is cost that does nothing for the patient's health or care, it is solely incurred to prevent possible malpractice.

SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 9 months ago


I want government out of every aspect of society, save for what is enumerated in the Constitution. That leaves very, very litte money for the government to collect and redistribute - including the funding Oliver North channeled to a group of freedom fighters in Nicaragua.

meggers 8 years, 9 months ago


That would probably work just fine, if you don't mind living in a Victorian-style, survival of the fittest, society. Personally, I prefer a more civilized approach- clean water, preventative medicine, humane working conditions, functioning transportation, funding for NASA and the technological advances space exploration brings, assistance for the elderly and disabled, laws against slavery and oppression, opportunity for every child to be educated, etc.

If one takes libertarian philosophy to it's logical conclusion, it isn't difficult to imagine the outcome- all of society's power (political, economic, legal, etc.) in the hands of a few, with no recourse for the oppressed. I find it ironic that so many self-proclaimed libertarians cite the Constitution as grounds for their political beliefs, when in reality, the type of society libertarianism would bring is precisely the type of society our Founders did not wish to see repeated in the United States.

salad 8 years, 9 months ago

" “I should force others to pay for the level of care I want,” you'll add."

STRS, you already are paying for the level of care others want. That's my point: those with no coverage cost more to treat when they do need it, and everyone elses premiums go up. Your putrid "I got mine, screw everyone else!" ideology is both un-american and immoral.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

HR 676 would make Americans employable,

The USA is the only industrialized country NOT providing medical insurance or care for its’citizens.

HR676 is the ONLY option being offered NOT connected to corporate american insurance. Politicians are still concerned for themselves and their election campaigns while you and I pick up the cost of their insurance. Each of the many politicians could easily afford to pay their own way. Yet you and I are doing so.

I cannot afford THEIR medical insurance. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay insurance for elected officials? They say paying for mine is not affordable. Then how is theirs affordable? Think about it. How many times are we paying considering the number of politicians in our lives?

All taxpayers need coverage, taxpayers need relief and big time reduction in cost.

HR 676 is the only equitable approach that includes all of us.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

A family of four making the median income of $56,200 would pay about $2,700 in payroll tax for all health care costs.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

How much of the health care dollar is publicly financed?

Over sixty percent (60.5 percent) of health spending in the U.S. is funded by government.

Official figures for 2005 peg government’s share of total health expenditure at 45.4 percent, but this excludes two items:

  1. Tax subsidies for private insurance, which cost the federal treasury $188.6 billion in 2004. These predominantly benefit wealthy taxpayers.

  2. Government purchases of private health insurance for public employees such as police officers and teachers. Government paid private insurers $120.2 billion for such coverage in 2005: 24.7 percent of the total spending by U.S. employers for private insurance. So, government’s true share amounted to 9.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2005, 60.5 percent of total health spending, or $4,048 per capita (out of total expenditure of $6,697).

By contrast, government health spending in Canada and the U.K. was 6.9 percent and 7.2 percent of gross domestic product respectively (or $2,337 and $2,371 per capita). Government health spending per capita in the U.S. exceeds total (public plus private) per capita health spending in every country except Norway, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

(Source: Himmelstein and Woolhandler, “Competition in a publicly funded healthcare system” BMJ 2007; 335:1126-1129 [1 December] and Woolhandler and Himmelstein, Health Affairs, 2002, 21(4), 88, “Paying for National Health Insurance - And Not Getting It.”)

Richard Heckler 8 years, 9 months ago

How can HR 676 be financed? Sources to think about: • Reduce corporate subsidies to finance health insurance after all the money belongs to taxpayers • 60% of all heath insurance today is financed with tax dollars = large chunk for the pie • Consider a 1 cent sales tax. This would be one tax that pays back the taxpayer. • We now have three sources of revenue to finance health insurance • Employers should not be forced to pay health insurance

Isn’t time politicians gave taxpayers what they need instead of giving taxpayers what the political parties dictate. Yes it is time for that special interest money to go bye bye.

KsTwister 8 years, 9 months ago

Rising costs of healthcare does make one wonder if the insurance companies are actually running the country on this one. Some have more that tripled their premiums for their plans and paying less for what you used to get. It does bear some looking into. I'll bet their bottom line isn't in the red nor anywhere close to it. When they do this to people on Medicaid it is the states picking up the tab which means the taxpayers actually. Is there such a thing as predatory insuring?

georgeofwesternkansas 8 years, 9 months ago

Log says: "I expect my health care would drop nearly 30% if not more under a government plan."

Log, if you want to see government run health care run over to the VA in KC or Topeka, and take a gander at how they run healthcare. Its not going to be any different, how could it??

sourpuss 8 years, 9 months ago

"$8,000?? Whatever, what a load of crap. Have any of you spent 8K at the doctor in recent years."

Let's see... in the last get rid of my cancer...

My first operation was about $65,000, my second was $150,000, my third was $200,000, each radiation treatment was around $1000... I had 25 of them. I see my psychiatrist every three weeks at $50/hr. My current chemo is $1000 per week for 18 weeks, so yeah, I think I've spent over $8000 on health care in the last year.

Of course, I live in Canada right now, so my $500/yr, no deductible coverage paid for everything. Oh, wait, I did pay $35 for a home nurse to visit once and I paid $25 for a blood test not covered by OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan)... I guess $60 isn't terrible. What is that down there, a visit to the doctor?

The_Bends 8 years, 9 months ago

Employer-provided health care is a historical accident.

It makes absolutely zero mathematical sense to pool risk in small groups of employees.

It makes zero economic sense to ignore the lack of economies of scale--and problem of adverse selection--inherent in the current system.

The only viable solution is government-sponsored universal coverage.

Godot 8 years, 9 months ago

In the New Obama nation, all will be equal. All will be required to graduate high school, and all will be required to attend post-high school education of some sort. No one will be exempted.

Street sweepers will be on a level with surgeons, for both functions are useful to society. The way our country will conquer the high cost of medical care will be to reduce the cost of receiving the education necessary to become a medical professional, thereby making it unnecessary, and unpatriotic, to receive higher compensation. It costs the same to become a street sweeper as it does to become a surgeon. It is that simple.

So said Obama. So be it.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.