If there is anyone reading this that could not live comfortably for the rest of their lives on the average single year salary of the top 8 CEOs in the health insurance industry, stop reading. You just don't understand.
After watching the Democratic debates and hearing so much talk about Medicaid for all and the health care system in general, I started to do a little research. The conclusions I reached actually did not surprise me. The health care system in this country is horribly broken and needs a radical fix, not an incremental one. Much was said about how we get to a solution, how much will it cost and whether or not there will be a role for private insurance in a new system. In any political poll taken in the past few years, the number one issue concerning American voters is health care. What can be done, and how can this country guarantee the right of health care to every citizen of this country? Vexing questions to say the least.
The first and most obvious solution is a common sense one that tends to run contrary to our collective philosophy as Americans. In order for anyone to even begin to reform the health care system we must remove the profit motive from the industry. What? You mean people can no longer get filthy rich off sick people? Yes, that's what I am saying. Until we can remove the profit motive from health care, nothing will change. How, you may ask, can I propose such an un-American thing? Here are some sobering facts.
Looking at the top 8 health insurance companies in America, the average annual salary of the CEO was just over 27 million dollars a year. Net profits for these same 8 companies topped 32 billion dollars. Since the Affordable Care Act passed back in 2010, their profits have actually increased, the result of allowing industry insiders and lobbyists to help write the law. Until the profit motive is removed from this equation, nothing will change. Would you willingly give up over 32 billion in profits for the sake of the National good? Of course not. Let them eat cake!
So, how does this get us to closer to a solution, you may ask. A health insurance trust fund for all Americans might look something like social security. A small percentage taken out of your paycheck each week matched by your employer would get us most of the way there. Also removing the cap for individuals with incredibly high compensation could get us closer and reasonable deductibles and co-payments could get us even closer. Cutting overhead in the cost of administering insurance could save millions of dollars a year and that money could actually go back into the costs of administering health care instead of administering the mammoth insurance industry. In terms of overhead, here is a small example. Remember we said that the average salary of a CEO of a health insurance company is north of 27 million a year? Guess how much the administrator of Medicaid is paid annually? Keep in mind she administers a budget of over 1 trillion dollars a year; far higher than any of these private companies. She is paid $165,000 per year. That's not a misprint. How's that for overhead?
Greed, corruption, negligence and plain old corporate politics is what is killing health care in this country and it is well past time for us to confront the problems and devise radical solutions to fix the issues and finally provide health care as a basic human right for every citizen of this country. It won't be easy but nothing that is worth it, ever is.
I don't have the answers, I never claimed to, but I am sure glad the conversation is happening and that certain politicians are focusing on the systemic change necessary for us to reach a solution.