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Controlling Costs in Socialized Health Care Systems

Conservative talk show hosts have done a good job of informing their listeners on the faults of the socialized health care systems in Canada and Great Britain, but there has been little discussion about the care provided by other socialized health care systems.

Consequently, it was interesting to read a September 15, 2009 analysis (requires Adobe) by the ranking Republican on Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)  asking whether “socialized health care systems (are) controlling costs?” Brownback writes:

“While the initial level of spending is important, it is the rate of growth in costs that is the more important factor in determining overall long-run costs.  It is those higher rates of cost growth that make the promises of government provided health care benefits essentially unsustainable.

“A review of the latest evidence reveals that the annual percent change in per capita health care costs in the U.S. has not been any higher than that of other developed nations that have primarily government-run health care systems.”

Readers are invited to take a look at the two charts. One shows that “U.S. health care cost growth (is) on a par with other developed nations.” The second shows that “U.S. healthcare cost growth (is) lower than the average OECD country over the last decade.” Specifically, Sen. Brownback writes:

“Between 1997 and 2006, health care cost growth in the U.S. averaged 5.9%, compared with an average for all OECD countries of 6.6%. During this period, the U.S. growth rate was below that of the U.K. (7.2%) and Canada (6.0%), and above that of France (4.7%).”

In conclusion, Brownback writes:

“Despite the proven ability of some other nations to hold down their overall level of government health care spending, largely through government-imposed-rationing, the evidence does not suggest that those government-run health care systems have succeeded in “bending the cost curve.” To the contrary, health care costs are growing in those countries, just as they are in the United States. The evidence does not support the notion that we can “bend the cost curve” by giving the government more control over our health care.”

One more argument for the public option, aka socializing the American health care system or national health care, debunked.

Reading Resource: The Wall Street Journal has “a comprehensive collection of (their) editorials and op-eds” at “The WSJ Guide to ObamaCare” that goes back to the beginning of 2009.

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