Why health care needs to be fixed

Ezra Klein had a must-read post yesterday about health care in America featuring three graphs that show why health care in the United States is driving this nation off a fiscal cliff. The most telling of the three graphics is this one showing the increase in costs in the United States and other nations:

As you can see, other nations are seeing increasing costs, too, but the curve in the U.S. is far sharper. That is the single largest driver of our structural deficit problem. In fact, without this increase, and its projected continuation, the United States doesn’t have a structural deficit problem. If the deficit is the main issue we ought to be concerned about (I know I’m sounding like a broken record here, but it’s not), then health care is the area of that issue we need to concentrate on the most.

President Obama got a start on that with the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are doing their best to overturn – even though doing so will make the deficit worse.

The report that Klein cites shows, once more, that the United States pays far more for health care than any other nation – twice the GDP of the United States is devoted to health care spending as it is in Great Britain even while 50 million Americans aren’t covered by insurance. Our system is inefficient and fragmented to the extreme. As Klein pointed out, “we’re spending more on government-provided health care than most countries where government-provided health care is pretty much all there is.”

Even though the Affordable Care Act was painted as an extreme socialist plan, the plain fact is that it didn’t go nearly far enough. The United States cannot afford the path it is on. It’s way past time to find a new one.

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