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The Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) has come out with a report pegging U.S. health care costs at $8160 per person this year. The costs are estimated to rise to $13,100 by 2018, which would represent 20% of the entire economy. (link)
The number of uninsured has risen to an estimated 48 million, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The Census Bureau has the entire population of the USA at 305,884,318.
Doing some quick math, if we had universal health care coverage, it would cost $2,496,016,034,880 this year. Let's just call it $2.5 trillion. By 2018, it would cost an estimated $4 trillion.
To help put this in perspective, the entire federal revenue for 2008 was just over $2.5 trillion. This is the problem President Obama faces going forward with a health care plan. If he nationalized health care right now, it would nearly double the size of the federal government, and would require taxation to more than double to pay for government services (to make up health care costs + current deficits).
So, with all due respect to Michael Moore's simple-minded movie Sicko, there is clearly no such thing as "free" health care. Not even close.
"Health care costs are crushing middle class families and the small businesses that fuel job growth in this country," said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. "President Obama believes that if we're going to get our economy back on track, we have to act quickly to address this pressing issue."
The White House is definitely correct about that. The question is what to do about it. President Obama is supposed to talk about health care on television tonight. Everybody should watch and listen. This is a HUGE issue, and the solutions offered by Obama will have an enormous impact on our economic futures. I heard an Obama spokesperson say that addressing the health care problem is addressing the entitlement problem. That could be correct (depending on Obama's solution), because the lion's share of the $55 trillion in unfunded entitlement liability is the cost of Medicare.
I just wanted to provide a little background information to frame the scope of the coming health care debate. I'll be back on this issue again later, after Obama's speech.