27 February 2010

No news in the Health Care Reform...

Evidently no one wants to be 'like the United Kingdom', when you talk about American Health Care reform.

"Why should we 'give the Government control' of this? We'll only end up paying more taxes..."

You've heard this before... from the Right or Left combined. But who knows how little that cost actually is in the UK, and! If we designed a Three-Star system (if you want to call UK's system a 'Two-Star'... not that ZEN does), could we not do so and save money in the long run?

An amazing coincidence makes studying the two systems easier... the UK is nearly exactly one-fifth of the United States' population. This makes comparing UK v USA health statistics very easy (and easier, since the summer 2008 Pound Sterling was nearly 2:1 on the Dollar (actually $1.98= £1)). Now, of course, it's different, but the sum total of statistics are still stuck in the 2008 'rut'.

Many statistics that follow are from the NHS site itself; ZEN Central takes full responsibility for any math errors derived therefrom.

REMINDER: crystelZENmud and ZENmud productions are not advocating FOR a UK-style replacement of the mixed public/private US system; we are offering a statistical comparison, to show how high USA costs are, in a trend without end for our future.

Total UK Health Care budget

The UK system, for the government-paid component, claims a 2008/9 budget that is 'more than £100Billion' (hereafter: 'B' for billion, 'T' for trillion). This link says that the total number for 2006 was £109B. Should we then deduce that the 2008/9 'stat' was an estimate? Then we can do so ourselves. Perhaps the 2008/9 number should be about £120 to 124? As a side note, it is interesting to note that, as a percentage of total spending in the UK Health system, the 'private' sector's share has dropped in recent years, from 16pc in 1997, to 12.7pc in 2006. How has that trend evolved in these last four years? Again: we do not know.

What makes writing this article to be a challenge, is the 'nose-dive' taken by the Pound Sterling, between July 2008, and February 2009: it dropped from $1.98 to a pound, to $1.42/pound by February, and then rebounded, up to a near-steady $1.64 per pound in the summer of 2009. Statistical averaging (not our forte) seems to allow a 12-month average of USD1.60=1GBP, to match (as close as we can) the offered 2008/9 UK NHS budget. Finding statistics to round up this NHS statistic, through the inclusion of private-sector care numbers,
are not easily forthcoming.

So if a population one-fifth our size, spent more than £120B on health care, we could perhaps gauge the equation as this:

61M*5 ... 120B*5*1.60

And thus our population of 305M in the USA 'might have' spent (think of Obama 'subcontracting' the US HC system to the UK NHS (don't laugh too much)) 960B to offer a Universal Health System to our citizens. We can round this up to 1T (one trillion), just for fun.

But it's 'un-American' to propose UHS in the USA... and our system, at some 2.42T/year, is still admired by those who want no change. Even though Fraud exists in Medicare (theft of our taxes by criminal 'doctors, health providers 'and' patients), many people support the status quo.

In comparison, another aspect for the Capitalists to digest: our US system (which by-the-way is already running at least 46pc 'Socialist', when the term 'final payer' is used: the VA, the Native American health care system, Medicaid and Medicare... all paid by the Government, and 'are' some form of UHS within each finite sector) takes at least 17pc of our GDP to sustain itself. The chart below shows 'Selected Countries' from 2006, when the USA was running 15.3pc of GDP.

In the United Kingdom, the total (If our sources are trustworthy) is hugging the middle of this graph: they only spend 8.4pc of their economy on health care.

Where would "We, the People!" be, if our economy had an economic 'jolt' of some 5-7pc of our GDP freed from the 'evil clutches' of the Health Care Beast? Devil's advocates would mention the disruptions of employment, as floods of health care 'paper-pushers' and 'claims denial specialists' (surely NOT what they are called in their 'terms of reference' contracts) were set free from their desks... and this is valid. But would not most be finding new careers in a newly re-energized economy?

Now it seems obvious that the UK is spending much less per capita than we are, by a factor matching the GDP and budgeted numbers, nearly half.

The comments of 'nay-saying Flat-Earthers', as we've nicknamed them at ZEN Central, seem to promote 'inflexibility': are they 'conflicted' by their job, investments or status?

This is our first discourse on a long-standing national debate... maybe too late!??

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