Just How Big A Problem Is American Health Care?

We Americans, all who have ever had a significant health issue – which is to say, everyone over the age of 45 and some percentage of those younger, know that American health care is ridiculously expensive.

Just how bad is it?

World Bank data¬†shows America spends 17.14% of GDP on health care. That’s nearly 1 in every 6 dollars of value created anywhere, doing anything in the entire United States.

That’s a lot of money. But it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem since other nations also spend a lot of money on health care.

However, the amount spend per capita is what matters.

World per capita spend on health care is under 10%. EU spend on health care is a bit over 10%. The US also has the largest per capita GDP of almost any nation, and certainly any large nation.

What does this mean? It means that something like 1.3 trillion to 1.5 trillion dollars is being spent in the US *more* than any other nation.

To put this in perspective: Total income tax collection by the US federal government is about 1.8 trillion dollars.

You want to Make America Great Again?

Take back that 1.3 trillion to 1.5 trillion spent uselessly per year.

Yes, a lot of medical billing jobs will be lost. But a whole lot more Americans will benefit.

More Tales of Freedom (from Security)

Here’s an interesting set of statistics on “health care” plans vs. actual affordable health care:


health insurance statistics us

From the article:

“More than four in in 10 households with private coverage and incomes between 150% and 400% of the federal poverty line do not have enough liquid assets to cover a deductible of $1,500 for single people and $3,000 for families.

  • That’s not a high deductible plan, but about the average in an employer-provided insurance plan.
  • Sixty percent couldn’t cover deductibles double those amounts, which are not uncommon, especially in the individual insurance market.
  • Ninety percent of insured households with incomes of 400% of poverty or more could meet a typical employer insurance deductible, but just 37% of lower income household with incomes under 150% of the poverty level could.”

28% to 40% of all non-elderly households simply cannot pay for their deductible. The hundreds of dollars they pay each month – thousands of dollars per year – is an outright financial extortion.

More importantly, the deductible plus the cost of health insurance effectively guarantees multiple thousands of dollars of health care spend to the health care and health insurance industry, from each and every household, regardless of usage.

It is a tax by any other means, and one which is not yielding good results according to comparisons against other nations’ health measurements.

Freedom Comes At A Price

A common refrain by many Americans opposed to national health care is that they don’t believe that “socialist” health care gives them enough choice or sufficient quality care.

The latter is utterly false – the US lags behind dozens of nations in almost every single category related to population-wide health despite being almost literally the highest spending.

What about the choice issue?

A friend of mine just moved to Portugal. He is fairly wealthy – certainly he’s never had to worry about money.

Among other perks of wealth: he had a nice American health insurance program, one that paid out literally millions when his mother got cancer and fought it for 5 years.

He avails himself of Valtrex regularly as someone who gets cold sores and colds, has very good health insurance and personal wealth.

In the US, with his very respectable health insurance plan, he paid $370 for his last Valtrex prescription – a generic. A brand Valtrex prescription would have been over $800.

His cost in Portugal for Valtrex? 3 euro. And he doesn’t even have health insurance there yet. This purchase was made via a private sector doctor.

Even without going into the hot button issue of choice – clearly there are problems with the American health care system at a very fundamental level when the exact same drug sells for a price that’s literally 100 times different.

We American sheep, in our quest to be free and have choice, are self immolating in a society wide blaze of health care expenses.

For that matter, unaffordable health care is itself a choice – one of deprivation.

OxyContin and the American Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis in America has been going on for a number of years now, but the press and background information on this is becoming more clear.

Today, Esquire published an article related to the opioid crisis and its likely greatest beneficiaries.

In it is a description of how the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, is the single largest driving force behind the opioid epidemic.

Purdue makes OxyContin – which is nothing more than time release morphine.

OxyContin in turn has something like 50% market share in the opioid market in the United States.

It seems very straightforward then to draw a line between the largest share of opioids, its manufacturer and the hundreds of thousands of dead Americans – which Chris Christie described as “9/11 every 3 weeks”.

The story is much more than that, however. It talks about how a professional marketer of quack nostrums purchased Purdue Pharmaceutical, who then cut his teeth in the actual pharmaceutical space as an “innovative” marketer for Valium, and who then turned his attention to finding a new product to display his marketing gifts in.

That product is OxyContin.

And therein lies the tale of the sheep vs. the wolf.

The classic image of a wolf is a ravening beast with no regard for life, limb, emotion or consequence. However, wolves in reality are highly social, cooperative and even friendly (when not starving).

The classic image of a sheep, on the other hand, is docile, kind and communal. Ironically, sheep are anything but. Sheep are the worst possible combination of social awareness, selfishness and envy as noted from the original “Sheep Logic” article.

The story of Purdue, OxyContin and the Sacklers will continue to unfold, but it is abundantly clear already that what we’re seeing is the cancerous spread of a Sheep Logic wave carrying OxyContin and “pain management” into millions of addicted and hundreds of thousands of dead Americans.

First blog post

Hello World!

This is the completely unheralded start of my blog: America the Sheepiful

Credit where credit is due: The inspiration for this theme comes from W. Ben Hunt’s “Epsilon Theory” blog, specifically the post: Sheep Logic

Mr. Hunt’s post resonated with me for several reasons.

First, while I knew that sheep were a huge pain to keep – gleaned entirely from my extensive but eclectic reading – I had never actually thought about why they were so capable of self immolation.

Secondly, I was struck by the juxtaposition of theory vs. reality in how Americans view themselves vs how Americans view Europeans.

Americans think of themselves largely as pioneers: lean, hungry, sharp – as wolves.

Europeans think of themselves as part of a larger community. Could be a town, could be a region, could be a nation, could be the entire EU.

Yet the characteristics of sheep, as propounded by Sheep Logic, show that it is actually not individuality which separates European from American behavior.

Nor is it awareness of others’ thoughts and feelings.

Rather, it is what occurs next: do other’s thoughts and feelings matter? Or are they just grist for one’s own self interested goals?

This seems like a very interesting dichotomy to explore – and one increasingly relevant as the sheep view of the world, disguised as neoliberal economics, attempts to continue its multi-decade run as the establishment view of how society should operate.