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How does the sum total of ALL US healthcare costs compare to the sum total of ALL US health insurance premiums paid by Americans, annually?

The problem of healthcare in America is often sold as an issue of scarcity, touching on political ideology. My question aims to see whether that scarcity(at least in terms of funding) is real or perceived.

If all of the premiums collected by US health insurance agencies were totaled, would the sum exceed the sum of all US healthcare expenses? If so, then wouldn't we have our solution to healthcare in America? at least in terms of Dollars and cents? Wouldn't it then become a matter of policy and reallocation of existing resources?

Must we also account for the untreated health issues that would have been included in the sum, if only those individuals could afford treatment?
IF we did account for those costs as well, how might that new sum compare to the Sum of Health Insurance Premiums?

Also, when we're talking about healthcare, at the core, aren't we talking about human rights? Our commitment to saving lives seems evident in the Hippocratic oath, and the laws mandating emergency care regardless of patient wealth. If we feel this way about human life; if we believe people deserve to be saved, then why don't we believe that all people deserve preventive and life sustaining healthcare? Why do we treat healthcare as a commodity, instead of as a civil right?

Whose interests are served when it is treated as a commodity and whose interests are jeopardized? Whose interests are served when healthcare is treated as a basic human right? Are anyone's interests not served by treating healthcare as a human right?

Doesn't a healthy society flourish? Doesn't a healthy society seem more likely to produce doctors, scientists and technicians who can further improve healthcare and life in general?

Your advice on where to seek these statistics would be of most immediate use. But perhaps more illuminating will be your perspective on health care as a commodity versus a civil human right.


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  • Mar 27 2013: Favio,

    I found that 17.6% of GDP in 2011 were costs attributed
    to health care. With 40% paid by the government.

    How true the figures are, I don't know. They were taken
    from an online newspaper, and I only believe half of what
    I read.

    Health Insurance Corporations may have had only little
    costs to acquire their 27 to 30 million new policy holders.
    Back in the 1970's costs to acquire, were running about
    25% of the first year's collected premiums.

    Many states today allow unrestricted Healthcare Billings.
    In the 1970's, California had a Relative Value Schedule for
    medical procedures. Much like your auto mechanic has today.
    California stopped using it.

    I used to have a copy. As soon as it was no longer required,
    surgeons had assistants coming out their ears, billing the same
    amounts, or a bit lower as the surgeon did. That caught on fast.

    Overnight anyone and everyone seemed to grab an invoice and
    mail it to the poor unsuspecting insurer. What a heartless bunch.
    I am sure the insured patient had no idea. lol.

    Health Insurance regulators used to require Health Insurance
    Corporations to submit actuarial data to support applications
    for premium price increases. But we never got to see that data.
    It seems like "commerce" is a big, big secret to anyone who
    wants full disclosure.

    State regulators are generally picked from Insurance Corporations.
    It was a "good ole boy club" then, and may still be.
    • Mar 29 2013: Frank,
      Thank you! your data is somewhat consistent with what I have come across also. I would like to discuss this further when I have fully digested all of the comments from this question. Thanks and I look forward to continued discussion.
      • Mar 30 2013: Favio, Thank you.

        Health starts to decline in the US at about age 54.
        Premiums, earlier structured, provide monies to pay increasing costs.
        US government has publications showing the increasing costs.
        Actuaries structure increases in premium incomes.
        Providers invoice patients, or insurance companies, or the US Gov,
        and prices increase for increased tests, services, and medications.

        Were you to research, state insurance regulator's archives, usually
        stored in some dusty dank, cotton webbed area, you could put together
        the whole deal. Perhaps under a state capital's dome? lol
        A Story
        Each state is "supposed" to regulate Insurance Corporations.
        But sometimes the US Congress preempts state laws.
        The ERISA Act of 1974 has a health insurance component.

        With the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, older
        Keogh and Pension Plans were enhanced by IRA's and 401k's.
        There's a 10% Penalty for early withdrawal before age 60 of ERISA funds.

        After ERISA passed, Banks, took out full page ads to gather in the monies.

        The Banks acted like vacuum cleaners. There wasn't a dime left
        out there for any new business venture capital. They got it all.

        The law (at the time) prohibited Banks from investing more than 15%
        of retirement accounts into "risk" investments.

        There was an explosion of Financial Banks, Mutual Funds, Insurance
        Corporations, Retirement and Financial Planners.

        Cities, Counties, States, Federal Governments, and Corporations, all
        created Pension Plans. Regulation was sparse, allowing for the
        creation of funded, and partially funded Pension Plans.
        Banking Lobbies got busy and slowly the Banks were deregulated,
        a bit at a time. Over 20 years, freed in the 1990's only to be suckered
        by Wall Street at 40 to 1.

        You know the "rest of the story".

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