The worst healthcare reform option: Doing nothing

Since the last failure to fix the system, costs have risen far faster than inflation. We can't afford a repeat


Andrew Leonard
July 28, 2009 11:06PM (UTC)

While Ezra Klein exposes Bill Kristol's lies about healthcare and Jonathon Chait rips apart Martin Feldstein's misrepresentations about Obama's healthcare agenda, it's worth mulling over some of the facts presented in a hard-hitting and compelling Bloomberg News article by Matthew Benjamin and Brian Faler on rising healthcare costs.

  • In 1994, Americans spent $912 billion on healthcare; 40 million people were uninsured. In 2009, Americans spent $2.5 trillion; 50 million were uninsured.
  • "Health-insurance premiums for families have risen 119 percent since 1999, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a Menlo Park, California-based policy-research firm. Inflation has risen 28.5 percent over that period, according to the Labor Department."
  • "Premium costs are projected to rise another 9 percent next year, an increase that 42 percent of employers plan to pass on to their workers, according to a report last month by PricewaterhouseCoopers."
  • "Health-care spending will account for 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product in 2018, or $1 in $5 spent, compared with 16 percent of GDP, $1 of $6 spent, in 2008."

After reading the Bloomberg piece, it's difficult to see Republican and Blue Dog Democratic resistance to significant healthcare reform as anything other than ruinously irresponsible.

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Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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