Tuesday night Eastern Standard Time, President Obama addressed a joint session of congress in an effort to outline his plan on managing the current economic crisis and to praise legislators for their quick actions in getting the US$ 787 Billion stimulus package passed. Obama told congress that he would eliminate all wasteful spending from the budget (line by line no less), create a new and decisive policy for Iraq and Afghanistan, pass initiatives to create or save approximately 5.5 million American jobs, and that he would take immediate action on dealing with the massive costs of modern healthcare.
While one can be slightly optimistic about the rapid response from the new administration with regards to the myriad of current economic, political, and social woes plaguing the
You see, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report, released yesterday, healthcare costs during 2009 will average approximately US$ 8,000 per American. Remember, this report comes before legislators have met to discuss the issue, and with the credit crisis dominating most of the political agenda it may be a while before any concrete action is taken on health care.
Through no fault of his own, Obama has inherited a healthcare service which is woeful at best. In fact, the Medicare and Medicaid services are so overstretched that analysts forecast their insolvency by 2016 and, that by 2018 $1 out of every $5 in the budget will be spent on healthcare. Couple this alarming prediction with the fact that the number of uninsured Americans has reached a record high of approximately 48 million, and the whole healthcare outlook for the
What does this mean?
For a start, the current economic crisis has provided a clear indication that universal healthcare is not the answer; the system is struggling to cope with the 45 million people that it currently covers. Considering that the
It comes as no surprise that the cost of receiving treatment in the
Whilst on the campaign trail, President Obama frequently mentioned the need for radical healthcare reform. What was Obama's major campaign proposal to reduce healthcare spending? Move to a paperless healthcare system where patient records are stored electronically. The US$ 77 billion in estimated savings was laughed off by industry analysts at the time, and seems even more ludicrous now, in the midst of the worst economic downturn of the last 20 years. Further to this, he has publicly stated on a number of occasions that he supports expanding the scope of Medicare and Medicaid to include increased numbers of low income earners.
Looking at the current state of the American financial system, and considering the afore mentioned DHHS report, it becomes fairly evident that taking the small step of eliminating paper from the healthcare system will still leave a host of other expenditure issues to contend with. Remember that 2016 is the estimated cutoff date for funding of public healthcare in the
Many American citizens will decry the insurance industry as to blame for the current healthcare fiasco, but this may be more out of experience with insurance companies, rather than any actual understanding of the issues. Health Insurance in the
This is the crux of the problem. And yes, it would follow that you do get what you pay for, and in the
Whatever the response from Obama's government, it is clear that action will need to be taken quickly. The money is running out.