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Is Health Care 'the Military-Industrial Complex of the 21st Century'?

401(K) 2012 / CC BY-SA 2.0
 

401(K) 2012 / CC BY-SA 2.0

American corporations would benefit from single-payer health care, so why do so few support implementing Medicare for all? In a recent piece for The Nation, Helaine Olen tries to find an answer.

What’s going on? You can thank a toxic stew of ideological blindness, fear of controversy, and rampant cost shifting for the silence. The size and power of the industry is a factor too. Healthcare “is the military industrial complex of the 21st century,” says Richard Master, the chief executive officer of MCS Industries, a supplier of picture frames based in Pennsylvania, and the rare [CEO] to publicly support single-payer.

The United States spends more than $3.3 trillion on health care annually. Employer-based insurance covers about half the non-elderly population. The cost is not unsubstantial. Medicare spends less than 2 percent of its budget on administration vs. 18 percent for private insurers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average premium for a family was $18,142 in 2016. The typical employer picked up about two-thirds of that total. The numbers are adding up, and the politically vaunted small-business sector is yowling. The National Federation of Independent Business’s 2016 Problems and Priorities survey found more than half of those they polled claimed the cost of health insurance was “a critical issue,” they faced.

Healthcare costs also eat away at American business competitiveness. Prior to the Great Recession, General Motors claimed that providing health-care coverage adds another $1,500 onto the sticker price of every new model sold. Starbucks reported around the same time it spent more on health care than on coffee beans. The Affordable Care Act has slowed the overall pace of health-care spending, which nonetheless still exceeds the rate of inflation.

Read more.

— Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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