The $3.6 Trillion/Year Healthcare System that Failed the Nation

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The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort docks in New York, Monday, March 30, 2020. The ship has 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms that could be up and running within 24 hours of its arrival on Monday morning. It's expected to bolster a besieged health care system by treating non-coronavirus patients while hospitals treat people with COVID-19. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

This November is the time to hold All members of Congress, states and local officials for their criminal negligence and total disregard for our national health.

From what we have seen and heard about our healthcare system, it makes us wonder what went wrong?

No doubt, America has the best hospitals in the world without any competition, and it has the best research labs in the world and has the best medical colleges in the world. The highest Noble Prizes in medicine all of this did not translate to what we see today as the nation faces the Coronavirus, a country without adequate health care system to deal with this pandemic. We found out that we lack ICU beds in the tens of thousands. We lack hospital beds in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

We found out we require hospitals and clinics in almost all areas of the country, not only urban areas where essential hospitals closed but in rural areas where private health care companies abandoned towns completely. Our public healthcare system is missing. We also found out that we lack adequate supplies of ventilators in hospitals.

We also required medical masks and garbs all over the country with some of New York hospital staff to use garbage bags for cover. With significant public health budget cuts in New York, the city and state forced to seek the help of the US hospital ship “Comfort” to provided added beds and for the town to set up a field hospital in Central Park.

It is so ironic that local and state governments compete to give tax breaks in hundreds of millions to Amazon to locate its distribution centers, while not seeking any support from Amazon to set up health care centers to serve its employees or demand Amazon provide full health insurance to all of its employees and provide paid sick leaves.

What we spend annually on health care is close to $3.6 Trillion or what amounts to 17% of the GDP, almost five times what we spend on the military. Though the military budget is fully funded by tax dollars, here the costs are shared by all parties with the federal government sharing the costs but not all the costs.

We also found out that our policy of relying on China as a critical source of medical supplies and equipment put our country in grave danger. Major pharmaceutical companies shifted manufacturing to China to produce on the cheap rather than keep it in the US to maximize profit pure and simple. In a breakdown provided by Al-Jazeera, these are the breakdowns;

  • Health Insurance Costs $ 2.1 Trillion or 58%
  • Costs of medications $ 540 Billion or 15%
  • Operating Costs of Hospitals and staff $ 800 Billion or 22%
  • Costs of medical supplies and devices $ 160 Billion or 5%

The costs of healthcare in the US shared by employees, employers, and federal and state governments, hence the problem. A single-payer system will save trillions in both tax dollars and private funds and provide the nations with a healthcare system universal throughout the country irrespective of regions and whether urban or rural.

The report also noted that the costs of health care insurance increased by 740% since 1984, while wages in the health care sector did increase only 24%. Unlike other Western nations, with universal health coverage, the US system leaves behind 28 million mostly in the food, service, and retail industries. Even Obamacare, which touted as a significant success of the Obama Administration, did not solve the problem being too expensive, in favor of the healthcare industry, and leaving tens of millions behind.

With the hope this major crisis will pass without significant irreparable damage to the national population and the economy, it is time to overhaul the entire health care system for the nation what we have now proved to be a total failure.


Special Note: Thanks to reporter Mohamed Al-Minshawi of Aljazeera for his research, and I took the liberty of using much of the materials in his report. Thank you, Mr. Al-Minshawi. www.aljazeera.net

Author Details
Sami, a Palestinian-American and a US Army Veteran (66-68), recipient of the “soldier of the month award and leadership award from the 6th Army NCO Academy, is an international legal and business consultant with over 40 years of international experience, in construction, hospitality services, conservation and defense, in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. Sami is a holder of BA, MPA in Public and Environmental Affairs, Jurist Doctor from Indiana University. While at IU he was elected class president, student government president and chairman of the Indiana Students Association, Active in peace movement as a co-author of the pre-amble for the One State for All of its people and voluntary service program SalamNation. A frequent contributor on national and international affairs. He resides in the United States.
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15 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with both Ian and Andy. What we need is not a million-dollar and very expensive and sophisticated equipment. We need affordable and reasonable care since most cases require just primary treatment and do not include a $300k lung transplant. When I was in Sweden for my daughter’s first birth, the hospitals are immaculate, essential services, and extraordinary when needed. I just had surgery in Morocco about two weeks ago in recovery now. The operation was a follow up on earlier prostate operation to clear ( fix urethral stricture ), admitted in the evening, the operation was done in the evening, stayed overnight with one of my staff in the room with me to help. First-class surgical room, clean, efficient, and excellent nursing service. I paid $1,200 for both the surgery and stay in the hospital. In the US, it would have cost some $15,000 with at least $7,000 for the room and surgical room, $4,000 for the anesthesiologist, and $3,000 for the surgeon. We do not need a Rolls-Royce equipment or rooms but necessary facilities, good equipment at reasonable costs. I do not complain about how much a doctor makes, but then when Jennifer Lopez gets paid millions to shake her naked ass in the Super Ball, I have a problem with that. I think the medical staff like firefighters, teachers, and police officers should be paid well for what they do—no reasons for sports figures to make $30 million a year.

    • Get well soon and viva Mexico! Seriously though, it just seems like madness to the rest of the world for the biggest economy to not have universal healthcare, we have all come to see it as a basic human right.

    • Sami . I’m Asian , WE are ALL Educated Since 4 generations , My 3rd generation Doctor cousins are Excellent Doctors but Laff and refuse to comment on USA Billing Procedures , Yes theyre Excellent Doctors And Yes They’re Filthy Rich …… it a crooked System that You just Have to Fall into …….

  2. “No doubt, America has the best hospitals in the world without any competition”. In a way that’s not true. The average physician and hospital administrator is focused on profit margin instead of delivering care equally across the population. Physicians are money making machines in the US. So what good does it do when these hospitals are profit centers, unless we are purely taking about the equipment.

    Take it from someone with a 95 year old retired surgeon as a father who was one of the last of the true breed of physicians who would perform for free if one couldn’t pay. Of course he is not in the US. And I’ve gone under the knife in three different continents to know the difference.

    But always appreciate your writings Sami. And spot on with your post of Reaganomics, couldn’t agree more.

    • I could not agree more. Yes. If you look at our hospitals, are well equipped with the latest ( my daughter gave birth in Sibly Memorial an,d I would say the room perhaps cost over $150,000 with all the equipment, etc. of course the costs are in the tens of thousands. High tech latest equipment also good doctors.
      I was in Sweden for her first child, and she had instructions about which hospital to go to and when to go to the hospital, and there were no doctors, only midwives who handle the birth. However, we need primary hospitals and good old fashioned doctors like your dad. The profit margins are simply unconscionable. What they give to their executives in compensation Imagine CEO United Health makes $60 million a year just managing paperwork I think this is a wake call for us to go back to the drawing board for all political, economic, and financial decisions we took since Reagan. Thanks to stay safe stay well..

    • Doesn’t matter how good your hospitals are if you have to bankrupt yourself to stay in one. If this pandemic doesn’t bring about universal healthcare in the USA, then there really is no hope for civilisation ever developing in that benighted nation.

    • Agree with Ian. You may have best hospitals, but can all people afford it?
      Medicine and lawyers are destroying America. Absolutely insane prices for medical services. Even if there is insurance. I’m not a professional in the American healthcare system, but, excuse me, it’s cheaper to die there than to recover. Commercial conveyor …

    • A beautiful Russian doctor who treated me in hospital here in England 3 years ago told me that we Brits must never allow the govt to take away our National Health Service, she said it was the best thing about socialism, meaning free universal healthcare. She was right.

  3. Sami, I read a comment on an article (not my idea) and have been researching the use of ethyl alcohol, inhaled (a vaping pen), as a treatment for mild symptoms. I have ran the concept of using a vaping pen with ethyl alcohol by Carol Duff and have done some additional research.

    Ethyl Alcohol DOES attack the protective membrane of the Coronavirus 19……but vaping is DANGEROUS AND HIGHLY ADDICTING….(only should be done in small amounts for short duration).

    It gives a strong “buzz” because the alcohol goes straight to the brain. That is too much of a dose for a simple lung virus medical use…it should not take very much.

    Look into this….it might be Russian vodka that has kept it away.

    • I see there is a recreational market in “vaporizing alcohol” (search term), so it’s not totally uncharted territory.

    • Back in the 1980s in college dorms, students were putting Everclear in ultrasonic humidifiers and breathing the fumes – one health risk of this is severe burns (think mini thermobaric weapon) if something ignites the fumes.

      Filling a CPAP machine with high proof ethanol and going to sleep would be a very bad idea.

  4. China is not responsible for our failing system. This all started with Reagan and his “voodoo economics” and “trickle-down economics” and “Milton Freeman University of Chicago” when the government decided to disengage from hand on governing to allowing the private sector to supervise its self. Our manufacturing sector lost tens of millions of jobs because the corporate-sponsored Congress agreed with Wall Street that our economy should be a financial and service economy. Total reckless disaster.

    • Bingo, I wish others would realise this, but it’s too easy to blame ‘China’. Much the same happened here in Britain under Thatcher.

    • As an entrepreneur in the forest products sector, in 1988, I realized that the flow of money into production was simply non-existent…..I couldn’t find equity money in the oldest US industry (forest products), even with a proven technical advantage (a product that took 3 years to develop but had a $50k margin).

      IU’s Business Management should have taught us how to build business and make jobs WITHOUT A BANKER OR BANKING RESOURCES…..because unless you will give your first born child to get funding (promising returns not possible)….forget it….money (equity investment) has not been investing in US entrepreneurs for at least 40 years. With engineering (mechanical and electrical) background and a business degree from IU, I cannot imagine a more prepared person….LUCKY or “in the right place at the right time” yes, but long term investment in a core industry….MY EXPERIENCE SAYS (investment in production entrepreneurs) HAS NOT AND IS NOT HAPPENING

  5. the more the US fragility and fundamental Mafia core is exposed, the more deafening the orchestrated, diversionary hysterical China-is-responsible finger pointing will be.

Comments are closed.