Saturday, November 04, 2006

Health Care Crisis: Oregon Edition

Short little AP report I just found in the News Register (McMinnville) which is very upsetting.
A new study found that health care premiums in Oregon rose nearly six times faster than median earnings since 2000.

Consumer health group Families USA found that health care premiums for insurance provided through an employer rose 82 percent during the six-year period while median earnings rose 14 percent.

The average total premium in Oregon is $12,125 and median earnings are $25,537.
Nationally, the study found that premium costs outpaced earnings 6.4 times faster, on average.

Tough to find the key paragraphs in a 4 paragraph article. To some extent we should have already known this (though its nice to have hard data to back it up). The evidence is increasingly compelling that we must establish a single payer health care system in this country. It is morally right, it is in the public health interest, and will be cheaper for everyone. Yet as soon as we start to seriously discuss it again, the insurance companies will scream "No! That's socialism!" which its not, but they'll probably win with that argument. As for Oregon itself in the absense of national action, I don't know. I have mixed emotions about dramatic State-level changes. Unless health care costs are controlled nationally costs within a single State aren't likely to drop, so a single payer health insurance program would probably be too expensive for a State to maintain. In any event, this can't be sustained much longer, it is time for this to change. This shows a truly sorry state of affairs in Oregon and an even worse picture nationwide.

1 comment:

Greg said...

We frame this argument in moral terms to often. It's real easy to just say "health care should be a right" and leave it at that, but as you point out, then the right screams something about us all being commie pinkos and ignores the argument.

Aside from the moral argument (which I think is powerful) , there's the economic one. How much easier would it be for a small business owner to hire new employees if he never had to worry about health insurance? Or on a larger scale, what would happen to the global competitiveness of Ford and GM if they weren't burdened with health care costs in the amount of several thousand dollars per automobile sold? Toyota and Honda employees out here in Japan are enrolled in the national health service (I am too - it's quite good). The system keeps the workers happy and healthy, and the companies - unburdened by spiraling health care costs - can afford to be a little more bold with their R&D budgets, which is paying off in spades now that oil is $60 a barrel or more.