A study published this week provides hard facts about the truly bad deal the US is getting for health care. Simply put, the US for-profit health system costs four times as much than Canada’s single-payer system. Even though the two systems provide roughly equivalent results.
Why? Because of a veritable army of administrative workers who play no direct role in providing actual medical care, and the cost of paying dividends to shareholders of insurance companies. These administration expenses add up to an annual cost of $817 billion, which is an average of $2,497 out of the pocket of every American man, woman, and child every single year.
It is bad enough that we pay four times as much for the same thing, but keep in mind that the high cost of US health care is killing people. It also hurts our economy because in the US many of these costs are shouldered by private companies. In my personal experience starting companies and working with other startups, this makes it much harder to start new companies or keep small companies running. And as we all know, small companies are the primary engine of economic growth, providing two-thirds of net new jobs and driving innovation and competitiveness.
Also note that this study did not include the time and energy patients spend dealing with health insurance companies. I primarily live in the US, but I have also lived in three countries that have single-payer systems, and the amount of extra time I have to spend dealing with health insurance companies in the US is staggering.
When people claim that a single-payer system will cost you money, they are simply lying.